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BILLIONAIRE BRAWL

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

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Buffett has supported Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail
  • Max de Haldevang
By Max de Haldevang

Geopolitics reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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