A bombshell report from the New York Times Saturday revealed that Republican nominee Donald Trump may have avoided paying federal income taxes for nearly 20 years.
The billionaire businessman claimed nearly $916 million in business losses in 1995 — a number so substantial that it would have allowed Trump to avoid paying federal income taxes for 18 years, according to the Times. The number was revealed in a partial income tax return leaked to the Times.
The partial return reportedly shows that Trump's losses in his Atlantic City casino projects, the Trump airline project and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan were a staggering $916 million.
Under typical circumstances, the Internal Revenue Service will allow an individual to offset their losses with any future amount owed. But because his number of losses was so high in 1995, Trump has potentially avoided any tax liabilities for nearly two decades.
Although it isn't known for a fact whether or not Trump avoided paying any income taxes at all, the revelation certainly doesn't help Trump, who has been pressured by challenger Hillary Clinton to release his complete tax record. Trump has contended that he will release his returns once he is no longer being audited.
"He has a vast benefit from his destruction" in the early 1990's, Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University, told the Times.
[sharequote align="center"]"He has a vast benefit from his destruction.."[/sharequote]
According to the Times, the partial tax return documents were mailed to their Manhattan office in an envelope indicating they came from Trump Tower. The envelope was postmarked in New York City.
More from the Times:
"The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at The Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances. The documents were the first page of a New York State resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return. Each page bore the names and Social Security numbers of Mr. Trump and Marla Maples, his wife at the time. Only the New Jersey form had what appeared to be their signatures.
Tax experts hired by the Times said the tax return did not suggest any wrongdoing by Trump, despite the large business losses, which the experts said would have triggered extra scrutiny from the IRS.
Still, the documents mailed to the times represented only a small fraction of the tax returns Trump would have filed in 1995.
The documents were even confirmed by Jack Mitnick, a lawyer and certified public accountant who handled Trump's tax returns for more than three decades, according to the Times. Mitnick was the preparer of the partial return sent to the Times.
"This is legit," he told the newspaper on Wednesday when presented with a copy of the documents.
In response, the Trump campaign declined to comment on the documents, instead releasing a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the legitimacy of the documents.
"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," the campaign's statement read. "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," it added.
The campaign also took jabs at Clinton, who they say "is a corrupt public official who violated federal law." The statement also charged that the Times is an "extension" of the Clinton campaign.
Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, separately emailed a letter to the Times threatening legal action, arguing that the publication of the private documents is illegal because it was not authorized by Trump.
See the documents sent to the Times here.
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