FLASHBACK: Trump Brags About Avoiding Taxes, Says Paying Them Guarantees They’ll Be ‘Squandered’

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President Donald Trump said during a presidential debate in 2016 that he was “smart” to avoid taxes, arguing at the time that paying taxes all-but assured the federal government would squander them.

The president bragged four years ago about not paying taxes during a presidential debate against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump’s taxes are in the news again after The New York Times reported Sunday that the president did not pay federal income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years and only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

“The only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax,” Clinton said at the time. Trump responded: “That makes me smart.”

President Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida on Sept. 24. (REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

The president said that he is a better steward of his own money than the government. “It would be squandered, too, believe me,” Trump responded after Clinton said: “Maybe … you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years.” (RELATED: Trump Paid $750 In Federal Income Taxes In 2016 And 2017 And None In 10 Of The Last 15 Years, The New York Times Reports)

The Times published a similar report in October 2016, noting at the time that Trump “declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.” The outlet published three pages of the president’s 1995 income tax documents.

The Times’s report on Sunday, meanwhile, claimed that the Trump Organization classified personal expenses as business expenses, which were then written off by Trump’s businesses. The president wrote off $70,000 for hair styling when he hosted NBC’s “The Apprentice” and various consulting fees for Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who now serves as a White House adviser.

The president called the report “totally fake news” during a news conference Sunday.

House Democrats sued the Trump administration in 2019 for access to the president’s tax returns, with Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal citing a law that states the IRS “shall furnish” the tax returns of any citizen to the country’s top lawmakers. Neal is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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