Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has hit back at Donald Trump a day after being accused of tax avoidance by the Republican U.S. presidential candidate, releasing data showing he has been consistent in his payments.
While speaking at Sunday night’s presidential debate, Trump for the first time admitted since entering the race that he had avoided paying federal taxes on his income for years. But he moved quickly to somewhat exonerate himself by claiming that some supporters of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, including Buffett, were also guilty of similar thing.
“Many of [Clinton’s] friends took bigger deductions,” Trump claimed. “Warren Buffett took a massive deduction.”
Responding in a statement released on Monday, Buffett said he has paid his federal income taxes every year since 1944. He went ahead to provide his tax data while calling on Trump to do the same.
“I have been audited by the [Internal Revenue Service] multiple times and am currently being audited,” he said. “I have no problem in releasing my tax information while under audit. Neither would Mr. Trump – at least he would have no legal problem.”
The Berkshire Hathaway chairman revealed that his adjusted gross income for 2015 was $11,563,931, while his total deductions stood at $5,477,694. His federal income tax payment for last year was $1,845,557, which amounted to around 16 percent of his reported total income. The billionaire, who said he has copies of all returns for the past 72 years, revealed that his returns for previous years were similar in terms of contributions, deductions and tax rates.
Charitable contributions were responsible for the largest chunk of Buffett’s deductions. He further disclosed that the amount deducted was quite little in comparison to the over $2.85 billion he gave out to charities in 2015. He had been limited by tax laws in terms of how much he could claim in charitable deductions.
This is unlike Trump whose charitable foundations have come under increasing scrutiny. It has been claimed that most charitable donations made by the Republican presidential candidate had actually come from donors to his foundation. The New York attorney general recently ordered that the Donald J. Trump Foundation should stop soliciting donations in the state.
Trump has vehemently refused to accede to requests that he should make his federal income tax returns public. This is quite unlike most American presidential candidates of recent memory. The billionaire has often given the excuse of being under audit by the IRS as a reason for not doing so, even though the U.S. tax authorities have said that does not prevent him for doing so.
He acknowledged on Sunday that he avoided paying income taxes to the federal government for years by claiming he had $916 million in losses in 1995.
Previously, Trump had claimed that Buffett reported an $873 million loss. He however did not provide evidence to back that claim.
Buffett has repeatedly spoken against loopholes in tax laws that allow him pay just a little portion of his income in taxes, according to the New York Times. He has called for a minimum 30 percent tax on income of those who make more than $5 million – a proposal Clinton is believed to be in support of.
Trump, who has criticized his Democratic opponent for not doing enough as a senator to block tax loopholes, plans to reduce the amount wealthy Americans pay in taxes.