WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump responded Wednesday for the first time to a New York Times report detailing $1.2 billion in financial losses early in his real estate career, tweeting that developers “were entitled to massive write-offs” in the 1980s and 1990s, and “always wanted to show losses for tax purposes.”
“Real estate developers in the 1980s & 1990s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ ” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.
The president added: “you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes … almost all real estate developers did -- and often renegotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!"
Trump’s tweets came after The Times reported on Tuesday evening that Trump’s businesses reported nearly $1.2 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994, according to IRS transcripts obtained by the newspaper. The losses came at a time when Trump was touting his status as a self-made billionaire as he pursued real estate ventures throughout New York City.
The Times reported that, due to the massive losses, Trump avoided paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years it examined, though it remains unclear whether Trump was forced to make any changes after being audited.
Trump, according to The Times’ examination of comparable tax data, “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer” for that period of time.
“His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years,” The Times reported.
The president has defied decades of presidential tradition by refusing to release his tax returns, and has fought House Democrat-led efforts to subpoena his tax returns and financial records. Congressional Democrats contend the documents could lay out potential foreign conflicts of interest in the president’s business dealings. Trump has repeatedly said “people don’t care” about viewing his tax records, though polls have consistently indicated a majority of Americans are in favor of the president releasing his tax returns.
A Quinnipiac Poll released in March found that 64 percent of voters believe the president should release his tax returns publicly, compared with 29 percent who believe he should not.