Famed investor and billionaire Warren Buffett on Monday disputed presidential candidate Donald Trump's suggestion during Sunday's presidential debate that both businessmen have taken liberal uses of tax deductions to avoid taxes.
Trump said that Buffett has used a tax break called a tax-loss carryforward that Trump has himself used. Weeks ago, The New York Times found Trump took a roughly $1 billion loss in 1995 that has allowed him to shield income for nearly two decades.
The CEO of investment company Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) strongly refuted Trump's suggestion he has taken advantage of the deduction and provided details about his tax-paying history. "I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13," Buffett says in a statement. "I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carryforward."
Buffett revealed some additional, little known details about his tax situation. In 2015, Buffett says he paid $1,845,577 in federal income tax. "Returns for previous years are of a similar nature in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates," Buffett says in the statement.
Buffett reported adjusted gross income of $11,563,931 and deductions of $5,477,694 in 2015. Of those deductions, $3,469,179 were for allowable charitable contributions and the rest were for state income taxes. Buffett says he has donated more than any taxpayer is permitted to deduct.
The memo was also an opportunity for Buffett to point out Trump's failure to provide his own income tax returns, a break in what has become standard practice among presidential candidates in modern times. Trump has said it isn't appropriate to release the documents because he's being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Trump's campaign could not be reached for comment.
Buffett, though, says he's been audited several times, and is currently being audited by the IRS, but added "I have no problem in releasing my tax information while under audit. Neither would Mr. Trump — at least he would have no legal problem."