Democrats in Congress unveil six years of Donald Trump's tax records to public, disclosing documents ex-president long sought to keep secret and dealing another setback as he again seeks White House in 2024.

A copy of Donald Trump's individual tax returns is seen after his returns were made public by US House Ways and Means Committee in Washington.
A copy of Donald Trump's individual tax returns is seen after his returns were made public by US House Ways and Means Committee in Washington. (Reuters)

Democrats in Congress have released thousands of pages of former president Donald Trump's tax returns, providing the most detailed picture to date of his finances over a six-year period, including his time in the White House, when he fought to keep the information private in a break with decades of precedent.

The documents released on Friday include individual returns from Trump and his wife, Melania, along with Trump's business entities from 2015-2020. 

They show how Trump used the tax code to lower his tax obligation and reveal details about foreign accounts, charitable contributions and the performance of some of his highest-profile business ventures, which had largely remained shielded from public scrutiny.

The disclosure marks the culmination of a years-long legal fight that has played out everywhere from the presidential campaign to Congress and the Supreme Court as Trump persistently rejected efforts to share details about his financial history — counter to the practice of transparency followed by all his predecessors in the post-Watergate era. 

The records release comes just days before Republicans retake control of the House and weeks after Trump began another campaign for the White House.

The records show how Trump limited his tax liability by offsetting his income against corporate losses as well as millions of dollars in businesses expenses, asset depreciation and other deductions.

While Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015, the year he began his campaign for president, he paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017, according to a report released last week by Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. 

He paid nearly $1 million in 2018, but only $133,445 in 2019 and nothing in 2020, the year he unsuccessfully sought reelection.

READ MORE: US lawmakers vote to release Trump's tax returns for 2015-20 period

Bank accounts in China, elsewhere

The records also detail Trump's foreign holdings.

Trump, according to the filings, reported having bank accounts in China, Ireland and the United Kingdom in 2015 through 2017, even as he was commander in chief. 

Starting in 2018, however, he only reported an account in the UK. The returns also show that Trump claimed foreign tax credits for taxes he paid on various business ventures around the world, including licensing arrangements for use of his name on development projects and his golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. 

In 2018, according to Joint Committee on Taxation figures, Trump paid more in foreign taxes than he did net federal income taxes.

The documents show that Trump's charitable donations fluctuated during his presidency but, in his final years, represented only a sliver of his income. 

In 2020, the year the coronavirus ravaged the economy, Trump reported no charitable donations at all. In 2019 and 2018 he reported writing checks for about $500,000 in donations. In earlier years the numbers were higher — $1.8 million in 2017 and $1.1 million in 2016.

It's unclear whether the reported sums included Trump's $400,000 annual presidential salary, which he had said he would forgo and claimed he donated to various federal departments.

The release marks the latest setback for Trump, who has been mired in investigations, including federal and state inquiries into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

The Department of Justice also has been investigating reams of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago club and possible efforts to obstruct the investigation.

READ MORE: NY attorney general sues Trump, children for 'incredible' fraud in New York

Democrats 'weaponised everything'

In a statement on Friday, Trump lashed out at Democrats and the Supreme Court for the release.

 "The Democrats should have never done it, the Supreme Court should have never approved it, and it's going to lead to horrible things for so many people."

"The great USA divide will now grow far worse. The Radical Left Democrats have weaponised everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!" he said.

He said the returns demonstrated "how proudly successful I have been and how I have been able to use depreciation and various other tax deductions" to build his businesses.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies