Donald Trump had foreign bank accounts in China, the UK, Ireland and St Maarten during his presidency, and in his first year in the White House paid more foreign tax than US, his returns have shown.
In 2017, Trump’s foreign financial interests were still apparently quite strong; he paid more than $1m in tax to other countries that year. But at the same time, his domestic efforts to shield himself from taxes were in full swing too, and he paid less than $1,000 for the year in federal income taxes.
However, his personal finances started to look a lot less like those of a global businessman during his four years in the White House.
These were among the findings gleaned from the public release of the ex-president’s tax returns, which took place on Friday morning and followed years of efforts by Democrats to get Mr Trump to either release them volunarily or through the court system.
The House Ways and Means Committee released its public report as well as redacted PDF images of the documents themselves, with Mr Trump and his wife Melania’s personal information removed before publication. In total, the documents span five years of Donald Trump’s life, from 2015 to 2020.
They depict the finances of a businessman who once had the freedom to pursue business deals around the world, only to put those ambitions on hold as he chased a four-year dream of political revenge against his Democratic opponents and a hard-right agenda in the White House.
In 2015, when Mr Trump launched his very first (real) bid for the White House, he held bank accounts in five countries listed on that year’s tax returns. Those countries included the United Kingdom, Ireland, St Maarten, the US, and China. Three of those (plus the US) represent regions where the Trump Organization owns or runs properties, while The New York Times previously reported the existence of the China account as well as Mr Trump’s now-abandoned plans to expand the Trump Organization into the country.
But only his accounts in the US and the UK would survive all four years of his presidency. The St Maarten account was shuttered in 2016, according to the documents, while the accounts in Ireland and China would close down a year later.
The account in China is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch given that the ex-president and his Republican allies took a hard line against China both during the 2016 presidential campaign and Mr Trump’s subsequent presidency. They have also continued to hammer his successor Joe Biden for supposedly not putting up a strong enough front, either economically or diplomatically, against Beijing. According to Mr Trump’s tax returns, his business interests in China did not take a back seat to his political opposition to Beijing’s trade policies and the actions of Chinese companies, which he and his administration regularly condemned.
The ex-president put his company in a blind trust controlled by his adult children upon taking the presidency in 2017. Since leaving office, he has remained separate from the day-to-day running of the business empire while largely retreating to his Florida properties amid a wave of criminal investigations and civil lawsuits.
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