Warren Buffett to Trump: I’ve been paying taxes since age 13, not trying to avoid them like you

Buffett has supported Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail
Buffett has supported Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett hit back at Donald Trump today, after the Republican presidential candidate claimed during last night’s presidential debate that Buffett took a “massive deduction” on his tax returns.

In a short statement, Buffett disclosed his 2015 tax figures (although he did not release the actual returns) and refuted several of Trump’s campaign-trail claims, including:

  • Trump’s excuse that he cannot release tax returns because he’s under audit
  • Trump’s insistence that even Wall Street’s most reputable investors take advantage of enormous deductions
  • Trump’s pride in gaming the US tax system, which he says makes him “smart”

Here’s Buffett’s statement in full, titled “Some tax facts for Donald Trump”:

Answering a question last night about his $916 million income tax loss carryforward in 1995, Donald Trump stated that “Warren Buffett took a massive deduction.” Mr. Trump says he knows more about taxes than any other human. He has not seen my income tax returns. But I am happy to give him the facts.

My 2015 return shows adjusted gross income of $11,563,931. My deductions totaled $5,477,694, of which allowable charitable contributions were $3,469,179. All but $36,037 of the remainder was for state income taxes.

The total charitable contributions I made during the year were $2,858,057,970, of which more than $2.85 billion were not taken as deductions and never will be. Tax law properly limits charitable deductions.

My federal income tax for the year was $1,845,557. Returns for previous years are of a similar nature in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates.

I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13. (Though, being a slow starter, I owed only $7 in tax that year.) I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carryforward.

Finally, I have been audited by the IRS multiple times and am currently being audited. I have no problem in releasing my tax information while under audit. Neither would Mr. Trump—at least he would have no legal problem.