Donald Trump has hit back at leaked records revealing he paid just a few hundred dollars in tax.
But rather than producing any evidence himself, he has claimed the report is “fake” and that the data was “illegally obtained”.
In a series of tweets, the US President – who has consistently refused to release his tax returns – said he has “paid many millions of dollars in taxes” but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits.
He dismissed the New York Times investigation which showed that he paid just $US750 ($1070) in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the fact Mr Trump has more than $400 million in loan and debt repayments raises serious issues around national security.
She questioned “to whom” he still owes money too. “Different countries? What is the leverage they have?”
“So for me, this is a national security question,” Ms Pelosi said on NBC News on Tuesday morning.
She continued: “We take an oath to protect and defend. This president is commander in chief. He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to whom? The public has a right to know.”
The controversy is sure to give Democrats some fodder as Joe Biden prepares for the upcoming presidential debate on Wednesday (Australian time).
And the heat will continue long after Mr Trump faces his rival at the podium, with the Times indicating it will release more records in coming weeks.
But whether his supporters will care is another question. The president has certainly attempted to appear as if he wasn’t too fazed, using one of his favourite phrases – “fake news” – to dismiss the evidence as “nonsense”.
Mr Trump has always refused to release his tax returns, saying it is because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. But the agency has said there is no reason he cannot release his taxes while under audit.
In his latest tweets, he claimed he was “extremely under leveraged”, meaning the ratio of debt capital to equity was extremely low.
“I have very little debt compared to the value of assets,” Mr Trump wrote on Tuesday morning (Australian time).
“I am the only President on record to give up my yearly $400,000 plus Presidential Salary!”, he continued.
He followed up with a tweet that said “much of this information is already on file”, and then in another tweet, he accused the Times of having obtained the tax information illegally, which the newspaper has denied.
He said he had “extraordinary assets” and boasted a “very IMPRESSIVE” financial statement.
Five key findings from the leaked report
Tax-return data covering more than two decades for Mr Trump and his businesses shows
- He has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt amid chronic business losses that he uses to avoid paying taxes.
- He paid no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.
- He claimed $US70,000 ($100,000) in haircuts and styling when he was hosting his reality TV show The Apprentice.
- He claimed $US47.4 million ($67 million) in losses in 2018, despite claiming income of at least $US434.9 million ($616 million) in a financial disclosure that year.
He was embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $US72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses.