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Billionaire Buffett fires back at Trump on tax claims

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Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Tuesday hit back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, releasing his own tax information and challenging the New York developer to do likewise.

[WASHINGTON] Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Tuesday hit back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, releasing his own tax information and challenging the New York developer to do likewise.

The claim followed Mr Trump's assertion in a televised debate on Sunday that, like himself, Mr Buffett had avoided paying income taxes by deducting sizable business losses.

Mr Buffett, founder and head of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, said on Monday this was untrue.

"He has not seen my income tax returns. But I am happy to give him the facts," Mr Buffett said in a statement.

Mr Buffett, who has endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said that for 2015 he had declared gross income of US$11.6 million and, after US$5.5 million in deductions for charitable contributions and state taxes, paid US$1.8 million in federal taxes.

Mr Buffett noted that he gave charities nearly US$2.9 billion last year but only could deduct US$3.5 million of that.

Mr Trump however has not released his tax data.

Tax records published by The New York Times this month showed Mr Trump had declared a US$916 million loss in 1995, allowing him to pay no federal income tax for up to 18 years.

During Sunday's debate, Mr Trump said he had indeed used the losses to avoid taxation. "Of course I do. Of course I do," he said, adding that Mr Buffett had done likewise.

Mr Buffett said that was incorrect.

"I have paid federal income tax every year since 1944, when I was 13. (Though, being a slow starter, I owed only US$7 in tax that year)," he said.

"I have copies of all 72 of my returns and none uses a carryforward."

Forbes this month estimated Mr Trump's net worth at US$3.7 billion but put Mr Buffett's at US$65.5 billion.

AFP