Donald Trump has not released his income tax returns yet but records from 1995 published Saturday by The New York Times showed he ran up $916 million in financial losses that would have enabled him not to not pay anything for 18 years.
To be clear, the sum of $916 million in losses, that came from returns he filed with three states — not federal, were real but the deductions enabling him to not pay anything were projections by tax experts paid by The New York Times to examine the papers.
The newspaper said these records were mailed to their reporter who has written about Trump’s financials with Trump Tower in the sender’s address, which was probably faked. But a former Trump accountant verified the returns as genuine.
Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has become one of the principal criticisms of his candidacy, especially by his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who has released returns running into decades, as has become the practice for all presidential hopefuls.
When questioned about it at the debate by Clinton, who raised the possibility that he is refusing to release his returns because he might not have paid anything at all, Trump had shot back, memorably, “That makes me smart.”
The Republican nominee is not known to repent a misstep or recant one, but he may want to reel that one back, someday. The New York Times uploaded its report around the time he was at an election rally, railing against Clinton.
Trump is said to have run up those losses through a string of bad business ventures, including three casinos, a failed airline and the overpriced Plaza Hotel in New York, which would be bought by the Sahara group of India in 2012.
For a man who has build his campaign for the White House around his business acumen, it’s hard to tell what he will be ruing more tonight — that he may have got caught ducking taxes or that his bad business calls landed him nearly $1 billion short.
Tax experts told NYT that “tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period”.
The Trump campaign did not deny that in a statement to the publication. “Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said. “That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes.”
But the Clinton campaign doesn’t agree, of course. “There is it,” it said in a statement. “This bombshell report reveals the colossal nature of Donald Trump’s past business failures and just how long he may have avoided paying any federal income taxes whatsoever.
“In one year, Donald Trump lost nearly a billion dollars. A billion.”
But the most illustrative comment came from Jack Mitnick, the accountant who worked with Trump for 30 years and authenticated the records. He told NYT: “Here the guy was building incredible net worth and not paying tax on it.”