During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump sort of admitted to not paying federal taxes. To be perfectly fair, he did not say these actual words but only admitted to feeling “smart” after Hillary Clinton suggested that he doesn’t pay taxes: “Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.” Trump not only felt proud of the possibility of not paying taxes, but he also claimed they’d be “squandered” if he did pay them … presumably, on unimportant stuff like the military, infrastructure, social services for the poor, elderly, and disabled, etc.
Trump visited Bill O’Reilly a few days later to “clarify” that he didn’t truly admit to not paying taxes, but he still thinks that — if he didn’t pay them — this would qualify him as brilliant “because tax is a big payment.” All along, the Trump campaign has dragged its feet over releasing Trump’s taxes, which has only encouraged media outlets to pursue them, and The New York Times has now secured part of Trump’s 1995 tax records, which could explain why Trump has not wanted them out in the wild.
While a portion of one year of tax documents may not seem significant, the pages reveal an astronomical declared loss that sure makes it look like Trump hasn’t paid federal taxes in almost two decades. And while avoiding taxes in this way is technically legal, Trump appears to have greatly benefited from his own terrible business practices:
Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.
The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
You can see the tax documents here. The Times spoke with tax experts who point out that this 1995 declared loss effectively set up Trump to eliminate $916 million in taxable income, which could have been spread out over almost two decades. Again, this was a perfectly legal tactic, but even so, Trump’s own financial failures could have allowed him to shield $50 million per year from federal taxes for 18 years. Since much of his campaign is built upon his business prowess, this looks pretty sad.
The Times dug in further by contacting Jack Mitnick, the attorney and CPA who filed Trump’s taxes in 1995. He confirms that the stated $916 million loss was “legit” and cleared up an odd font discrepancy with a bug associated with his 1995 software. The scant portion of these documents obtained by The Times doesn’t confirm Trump’s claimed $2 billion net worth but does shed light on Trump’s business practices. Further, Mitnick states that Trump “clearly grasped” that the tax code could “protect him” and that Trump understood the “critical role taxes would play in helping him build wealth.”
You can read more of The Times analysis right here. Meanwhile, enjoy these past Trump tweets in a different light.
(Via New York Times)