A report that Donald Trump paid little or no federal income tax in recent years sparked broad outrage on Monday, from rich Democrats to teachers and coffee shop workers taking to social media to claim they had paid more taxes than the U.S. president.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist and a fierce critic of the president, took to Twitter to castigate Trump over his taxes and called for voters to kick him out office on Nov. 3. “In 2017, I paid $32 million more in federal taxes than Donald Trump,” he added.
Trump defended his record on Monday after the New York Times reported he had paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises.
In a series of Twitter posts, the Republican president said he had paid “many millions of dollars in taxes” and that he had many more assets than debt. He did not provide evidence or promise to release any financial statements before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
It is unclear whether the events will affect how Americans vote. Trump‘s Twitter posts received tens of thousands of ‘likes,’ as his supporters spoke out in his defense.
George Callas, managing director at law firm Steptoe LLP and former Republican tax counsel in the House of Representatives, criticized in a tweet the leaking of confidential tax information and defended the tax system, while acknowledging some wealthy people avoid paying much, if any, tax.
“There is nothing inherently ‘unfair’ about using losses to offset income. In fact, it’s a critical piece of measuring someone’s actual income over time,” he wrote in a follow-up email to Reuters. “The question is whether those losses are real economic losses or just paper losses generated for tax purposes. And that can be very difficult to tease out.”