Questions raised about Trump's business activities, foreign ties, and charitable donations in wake of tax return revelations
Donald Trump at the Elysee Palace. (Frederic Legrand - COMEO /

A new CNN Business report outlines several questions that are being raised in the wake of the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns, including questions about his foreign ties and charitable donations.

The House Ways and Means Committee released the tax returns on Friday, ending a yearslong battle by the former president to keep his finances private as he prepares for another run at the White House in 2024.

The Republican leader -- who lost his re-election bid as he served a single term from 2017-2021 -- broke with tradition by refusing to release the records, triggering feverish speculation about what they might contain.

Trump’s tax returns showed that the 76-year-old billionaire mostly claimed enormous annual deficits.

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He paid $1.1 million in federal taxes in 2018 and 2019, the middle two years of his presidency, after making around $30 million selling assets.

But that dwarfed his $750 bill in 2017 -- and he paid nothing at all as his losses mounted in 2020.

The report also showed that Trump had carried forward $105 million in net operating losses on his 2015 return, $73 million in 2016, $45 million in 2017 and $23 million in 2018 to reduce his tax liability.

The tax returns show that Trump had a China-based bank account between 2015 and 2017, but it is unclear what it was used for.

“The tax returns do not show what the bank account was used for or how much money passed through it or to whom. The New York Times first reported about Trump’s Chinese account in 2020, and Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that the account was used to pay taxes on the Trump International Hotels Management’s business push in the country,” according to the CNN report, which was authored by David Goldman, Allison Morrow and Alicia Wallace.

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“Trump did not report the Chinese bank account in personal financial disclosures when he was president, likely because it was listed under his businesses. Yet he may have still been required to report accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).”

The tax returns also indicate that Trump has business ties to organizations in Azerbaijan, Panama, Canada, India, Qatar, South Korea, the United Kingdom, China, the Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Grenada, US territory Puerto Rico, Georgia, Israel, Brazil, St. Maarten, Mexico, Indonesia, Ireland, Turkey and St. Vincent.

“But the tax returns don’t explain what business ties he had in those countries and with whom he might have been working while he was president,” CNN noted.

The tax returns also raise questions about Trump’s pledge to donate his $400,000 presidential salary to charity each year. He appears to have kept his promise – at least until 2020.

“If he donated his 2020 salary, he didn’t claim it on his taxes,” CNN reported. “That doesn’t mean his salary wasn’t donated, but it’s unclear if he made good on his promise in 2020.”

Tax returns also raise questions about whether Trump was loaning money to his adult children, whether his business operations changed when he was president, and whether the IRS provided Trump with special treatment, according to CNN.

With additional reporting by AFP