Despite demands from Mitt Romney, and the fact that it’s protocol when you’re running for president, Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns, because the IRS is auditing him. This hasn’t stopped intrepid reporters from investigating Trump’s tax payments anyway, with the Daily Beast finding two tax case appeals that Trump filed. They reveal that Trump probably did not pay income tax.
The Daily Beast article says that in the first appeal he filed in the early 1990s, Trump provided a 1984 federal tax return. He identified himself as a “sole proprietor, and provided a Schedule C that listed no income, but from which he deducted $626,264 as expenses. He deducted a similar amount for his New York City return. During the trial for that case, Trump’s accountant was unable to explain how Trump was able to claim that many expenses, without accounting for any income. The accountant even denied preparing that tax return when shown a copy. Trump didn’t provide any other documentation to account for this. He lost the case.
This 1984 return came up in the second case, in 1994, about taxes on some apartment units he sold. Trump claimed “double taxation” on the sale profits in his appeal, but the judge pointed to this same tax return, when writing in his opinion against Trump, “The problem at issue is not one of double taxation, but of no taxation.”
A Washington Post article from May reveals that Trump claimed negative income on his 1978 and 1979 tax returns, thus getting out of paying taxes:
Trump had submitted his 1978 and 1979 returns to the regulators as part of an application for a casino license. State records summarizing the returns show that Trump claimed that his combined income during those two years was negative $3.8 million, allowing him to pay no taxes. A few years earlier, he had told the New York Times he was worth more than $200 million.
The Post also points out Trump has repeatedly bragged about taking advantage of tax loopholes, while trying to appeal to working class voters who say they pay more taxes than rich people in America. The candidate has proven to be made of teflon during this election cycle, but apparently he’s worried enough about his past tax returns to refuse releasing any of them. The Daily Beast suggests that congressional Republicans, particularly the ones who are skeptical about Trump, should force his hand by amending the tax code to make tax returns public for presidential candidates.