Buffett hits back at Trump over tax comments

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Oct 10 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett denied on Monday an allegation by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that he, like Trump, had taken "a massive deduction" that allowed him to avoid federal income taxes.

Buffett said he paid about $1.85 million in income tax in 2015, and that returns for previous years were similar in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates.

Buffett said he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, but had "no problem" releasing his tax information.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing ongoing audits by the IRS.

"I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13," Buffett said in a statement, adding that "being a slow starter, I owed only $7 in tax that year."

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Warren Buffett speaks to the media during a press conference Monday, June 26, 2006 in New York. Buffet, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, recently announced his intention of giving 10 million shares of his company to charitable organizations, the majority going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (L) cofers with billionaire investor Warren Buffet (R) during a meeting with Wall Street investors at the Ritz Carlton hotel February 25, 2004 in New York City. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Kathy WILLENS (Photo credit should read KATHY WILLENS/AFP/Getty Images)
Investor Warren Buffet participates in the Treasury Conference on U.S. Capital Markets Competitiveness, Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at Georgetown University in Washington. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
CLEVELAND - MARCH 25: Philanthropist Warren Buffet (C) wears a LeBron James Witness tee-shirt as he cheers for the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game against the Denver Nuggets March 25, 2007 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
** FILE ** In this May 21, 2008 file photo, U.S. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet speaks during a news conference in Madrid. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is investing at least $5 billion in Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Goldman announced Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul White, file)
Warren Buffet, chairman of Bershire Hathaway, arrives for the annual Allen & Co.'s media conference Wednesday, July 9, 2008, in Sun Valley, Idaho. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
FILE - In this May 2, 2009 file photo, Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, right, waves to shareholders prior to the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb. Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway said Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, it has agreed to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe in a deal valuing the railroad at $34 billion.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)
Warren Buffet heads to lunch after a morning session at the Sun Valley Inn for the 2011 Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Sun Valley, Idaho. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Warren Buffett is interviewed in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, Monday, July 18, 2011, following his meeting with President Barack Obama. Obama met with members of the Giving Pledge including, Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, and others to receive and update on the program. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Friday, July 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., right, speaks to David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, during the Economic Club of Washington dinner event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Buffett said he doesn't expect another U.S. recession unless Europe's crisis spreads. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 18: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett speaks at an event called, 'Detroit Homecoming' September 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The purpose of the invitation-only event of Detroit expatriats is to give the group a chance to reconnect, reinvest and reinvent with their hometown. The topic of Buffet's conversation was, 'Why I'm Bullish on Detroit.' (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Warren E. Buffett, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., participates in a NADA Automotive forum happening in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Buffett, ranked the world's third-richest person by Forbes magazine, said he had copies of all 72 of his returns "and none uses a carryforward."

Responding to an Oct. 1 New York Times story, Trump acknowledged during the presidential-candidates' debate on Sunday that he had used investment losses to avoid paying taxes.

Trump repeatedly said he was only taking advantage of tax provisions used by wealthy people who support Clinton. "I absolutely used it, and so did Warren Buffett ...", he said.

The Times reported that Trump's declared loss of $916 million in 1995 was so large that he could legally have avoided paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said his 2015 tax return showed adjusted gross income of $11,563,931.

"My deductions totaled $5,477,694, of which allowable charitable contributions were $3,469,179. All but $36,037 of the remainder was for state income taxes," he said.

"The total charitable contributions I made during the year were $2,858,057,970, of which more than $2.85 billion were not taken as deductions and never will be. Tax law properly limits charitable deductions," Buffett said.

Buffett said he had no problem releasing his tax information while under audit.

"Neither would Mr Trump - at least he would have no legal problem." (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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1. Amancio Ortega 
2. Bill Gates 
3. Warren Buffett
4. Carlos Slim Helu 
5. Jeff Bezos
6. Mark Zuckerberg 
7. Larry Ellison
8. Michael Bloomberg 
9. Charles and David Koch
10. Liliane Bettencourt
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