Tuesday 20 March 2018

Trump in tax row over donations to military veterans

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump

David Lawler in Washington

DONALD TRUMP angrily defended himself yesterday after his claims of fundraising for veterans' groups were questioned.

But he ignited further controversy when he disclosed that the charities had been asked to hand in tax documents, despite the fact that he has refused to disclose his own tax filings.

Mr Trump was holding a press conference in New York to address the fact that his claims to have donated millions of dollars to veterans' organisations had not been backed by hard evidence.

Rumblings have been growing ever since Mr Trump missed a Republican debate in January to hold a fundraising event, which he said made more than $6m (é5.2m) for former members of the US military.

Mr Trump lambasted the media for reports claiming that only a fraction of the money he had pledged was actually donated, going so far as to point to one reporter and call him "a total sleaze".

He listed a total of $5.6m in contributions. Much of the money was reportedly given after the news reports emerged.

Mr Trump opened himself up to criticism when he said a planned donation to one organisation was being withheld pending the receipt of documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He said the documents were needed to ensure that the groups were legitimate.

The comments prompted accusations of hypocrisy as the de facto Republican nominee has departed from precedent by saying he will not release his tax returns.

This has become a primary point of attack for his opponents, who note that every major party nominee for 40 years has released at least some tax filings.

They insinuate that the self-proclaimed billionaire's filings will show that his claims of generosity are not backed up by charitable giving.

Mr Trump says he is subject to an ongoing audit by the IRS and therefore cannot release the returns. Tax experts say he could decide to make them public.

He said: "I don't want to send a $250,000 cheque to a group that doesn't do good work."

The event devolved into a standoff between Mr Trump and the media and he questioned the integrity of the reporters. "I'm going to continue to attack the press. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest," he said.


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