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Warren Buffett Fact Checked Donald Trump, Released His Own Tax Data

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Warren Buffett's Donations
  • Warren Buffett Just Fact Checked Donald Trump

In a debate Sunday, Trump acknowledged using a nine-figure loss in 1995 to reduce tax obligations and sought to liken the move to strategies used by some of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s wealthy supporters, including Buffett. On Monday, the billionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman released information from his personal taxes and challenged the Republican presidential candidate to do the same.

“He has not seen my income tax returns. But I am happy to give him the facts,” Buffett said in a statement. “I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13.”

Buffett has been clashing for months with Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, citing an audit. At a campaign event for Clinton in Omaha, Nebraska, in August, the Berkshire chairman challenged the Republican candidate to meet him “any place, any time” to swap returns and answer questions from the public.

That never came to pass. On Monday, Buffett said he paid $1.85 million in federal income taxes in 2015 on adjusted gross income of $11.6 million. That would mean he paid an effective federal income tax rate of about 16 percent. In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, the top 1 percent of earners paid 27 percent, according to an analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by the Tax Foundation.

Charitable Donations

Most of Buffett’s $65 billion fortune comes from his controlling interest in Berkshire. The company doesn’t pay a dividend and, for decades, Buffett has asked the board to keep his annual salary at $100,000. The 86-year-old is steadily giving away his Berkshire shares to philanthropy.

He said Monday that he made more than $2.8 billion of donations last year. Yet his tax return shows only $5.5 million in deductions, mostly for allowable charitable contributions and state income taxes. The law “properly” limits what can be deducted, Buffett wrote.

He again dismissed the contention that Trump can’t release his own return because of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

‘No Problem’

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

Jessica Ditto, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, declined to comment on Buffett’s remarks.

Trump, who has departed from roughly 40 years of tradition for presidential nominees by declining to release his returns or any tax information, has said he’ll make them public once the audit is complete and that returns wouldn’t give voters very much information.

Tax Strategies

Releasing full tax returns and schedules would disclose Trump’s income sources, charitable contributions and possible glimpses of his tax-minimizing strategies. Income reported from assets could provide at least some partial clues about the nature of those holdings, though not about their value or inner workings. His returns would also reveal any foreign income or foreign bank accounts.

Even if he didn’t release full returns, Trump could give voters at least some information — that is, how much he made and how much he paid — by releasing the sort of figures Buffett did, particularly if Trump provided several years’ worth of data.

During Sunday’s debate, Trump acknowledged for the first time that he had used a business loss of $916 million to avoid federal income income taxes — though he didn’t say for how long, and he said such tax avoidance is common practice among wealthy businessmen.

Under rules in place at the time, Trump could have used the loss to avoid taxes on as much as $50 million in income a year — for three years prior to the loss and 15 years after. Using old losses to reduce taxes on income in future years is known as a carryforward.

Buffett’s 72 Returns

“I have copies of all 72 of my returns,” Buffett wrote Monday. “And none uses a carryforward.”

While Berkshire has been a sophisticated user of the tax code to limit its liabilities, Buffett has been outspoken for years about how the wealthiest people in the U.S. don’t pay enough income tax. To illustrate the point, he has said his secretary pays a higher rate than he does.

The billionaire was the inspiration of the so-called Buffett Rule, proposed by President Barack Obama and backed by Clinton, which would tax incomes exceeding $1 million at a minimum rate of 30 percent. The Democratic candidate reiterated her support for that plan Sunday.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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