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Trump tax returns dispute White House claim that he donated salary during Covid

Donald Trump donated nothing to the Department of Health and Human Services during the height of the pandemic, despite claiming publicly to have done so, his tax returns revealed on Friday.

The release of his returns came as the result of the end of a years-long legal battle between the now-former president and the House Ways and Means Committee, which released its final report this week after recently obtaining the returns when the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case.

The picture painted by the documents is crystal clear: Donald Trump claimed zero charitable donations throughout 2020, meaning that his tax burden was not reduced at all (at least in that regard). He would still go on to pay $0 in income tax for the year in total.

If his returns are accurate, they would directly contradict a statement made by his chief White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, in March of 2020 at the heigh of the Covid-19 pandemic’s first wave across America. Stores were beginning to shut down across the country as nonessential businesses were ordered to close in many states.

At the time, Ms McEnany tweeted: “President @realDonaldTrump made a commitment to donate his salary while in office. Honoring that promise and to further protect the American people, he is donating his 2019 Q4 salary to @HHSGov to support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain, and combat #Coronavirus.”

Regardless of when the actual salary was received, any donation made in 2020 should have been reported on that year’s returns. Though US citizens are not required by law to report charitable donations, the tax incentives for doing so are clear and Mr Trump had just reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations the year before.

Ms McEnany joined the conservative Fox News network after leaving the Trump administration and now serves as a co-host of the network’s Outnumbered programme on weekdays.

Her tweet is a revealing look into how far her former boss’s relationship with the Covid pandemic and his own government experts evolved throughout 2020 as he received more and more criticism for the high number of US deaths stemming from the disease.

Mr Trump would go on later that very year to denounce his own public health experts at HHS and its related organisations with scorn after they refused to back up some of his more far-fetched suggestions for fighting the virus, such as injecting bleach or sunlight into the bodies of infected persons.