Outraged reaction rolled like a tidal wave late Sunday afternoon to the New York Times report that Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 – and paid zero to the U.S. Treasury in several other recent years. The hashtag #TrumpTaxReturns instantly began trending.
Appearing at a White House news conference shortly after the story broke, Trump predictably deemed the Times report “fake news.”
But recall Trump’s braggadocio during a September 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton, in which he proclaimed himself “smart” for not paying income taxes.
As CNBC reported at the time:
“Donald Trump said he’s “smart” by not paying income taxes — and argued that if he did, the money would be “squandered.”
“Trump’s jaw-dropping statements came after Hillary Clinton launched a fiery attack on the Republican presidential nominee for breaking a four-decade tradition of White House aspirants releasing their federal income tax returns.
“Clinton said, ‘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.'”
Trump quickly shot back: “That makes me smart.”
Watch a clip of that exchange here:
Later, when Clinton told Trump was that “maybe … you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years,” the real estate mogul, who claims to be worth up to $10 billion, said that he was a better steward for his money than the government.
“It would be squandered, too, believe me,” Trump said.
Trump, of course is the only president since the 1970s not to make his tax returns public, claiming he cannot do so because they’re under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
The Times report, which it said comes from tax return data it obtained extending over two decades, comes at a pivotal time just two days before the first presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden.