Donald Trump has not released his income tax returns yet, but records from 1995 published by The New York Times showed he ran up $916 million in financial losses that would have enabled him not to pay anything for 18 years.
The 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 daily to examine the papers.
NYT said the 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. When questioned about it at the debate by Hillary Clinton, who said he may be refusing to release returns as he might not have paid anything at all, Trump shot back, “That makes me smart.”
The newspaper uploaded its report on Saturday around the time he was at an election rally, railing against Clinton.
Trump is said to have run up the losses through a string of bad business ventures, including three casinos, a failed airline and the overpriced Plaza Hotel in New York, which was bought by the Sahara group of India in 2012.
For a man who built his campaign around his business acumen, it’s hard to tell what he will be ruing more — 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”