The New York Times reported Saturday night that Donald Trump declared $915 million in losses on his 1995 New York State tax return, a deduction so large that it could have spared him from paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, according to records obtained and analyzed by the newspaper.
The Republican presidential nominee has refused to make his income tax records available, citing an ongoing IRS audit.
However, the 1995 records obtained by The Times expose losses and resulting tax benefits that Trump claimed based on business activities in the early 1990s, including: mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos; an attempt to enter the airline industry; and the purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Experts hired by The Times said Trump’s loss would legally have given the candidate the option to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.
Trump’s tax records for all years since 1995 remain unreleased, so it is unclear if he took advantage of the tax rules that would have allowed him to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income.
The Times obtained the first page of a New York State resident income tax return, as well as the first page each of New Jersey and Connecticut nonresident tax returns. It was the New York return that contained the reporting of the significant loss, and The Times reports that Jack Mitnick, an attorney and Trump’s former certified public accountant, confirmed the significant loss listed on the New York document.
Trump declined to confirm or deny The Times’ report.
His campaign instead issued a statement: “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. 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.”
“Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it,” the statement said.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton challenged Trump for not releasing his tax records during Monday’s debate, claiming he’s paid nothing in federal taxes and citing an instance in which he said he paid no federal income taxes in the late 1970s.
“That makes me smart,” Trump replied.