Conflicts and implications of Trump’s tax records

By Eric Preisler 
Correspondant 

The New York Times obtained Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s tax records from 1995, which reported a “$916 million loss that could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.”

His debt resulted during the 1990s from the mismanagement of his three casinos in Atlantic City, his failed attempt at entering the airline business and his badly timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, according to The New York Times.

Trump’s losses are not exclusive to the 1990s, though. Newsweek reported that five years of tax information from the 1970s, which Trump provided to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, revealed he was almost pushed into personal bankruptcy, but was financially assisted by his father.  

Trump’s tax records were disclosed to The New York Times without his consent, the news source reported. Trump’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, emailed a letter to the publication and threatened “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action.”

According to Newsweek, while it is legal to deduct against losses in future tax years, this may hurt his campaign. The news outlet mentioned that supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Clinton herself can use Trump’s tax records as a substantial criticism of his business prowess.

The Clinton campaign released a statement about The New York Times’s article: “(The) ‘bombshell report…’ reveals the colossal nature of Donald Trump’s past business failures and just how long he may have avoided paying any federal income taxes whatsoever,” according to CNN.

The New York Times report shed light on circumstances in which Trump appears to have benefitted while others have suffered from his financial “destruction” in the early 1990s, according to Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.

Rosenfeld told The New York Times that he would tell a client who came to him with a tax return similar to Trump’s: “Do you realize you can create $916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?”

CNN reported that in a Monmouth University poll conducted last month, about 62 percent of voters think it is important or somewhat important for candidates to show their tax records.

During the first presidential debate, Trump seemed to indicate that he has not paid federal income tax for an unspecified time in response to an accusation from Clinton, according to CNN.

“That makes me smart,” Trump said during the debate.

During an interview with CNN reporter Dana Bash after the debate, Trump denied the comment and said, “If they said I didn’t, it doesn’t matter. I will say this: I hate the way our government spends our taxes because they are wasting our money. They don’t know what they are doing, they are running it so poorly.”

According to CNN, Trump’s failure to release his tax returns is similar to what happened to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose resistance to release his tax records was exploited by President Barack Obama’s campaign. The same source reported that the release of Romney’s tax returns hurt him, too, as he only paid an effective tax rate of about 14 percent, since a majority of his income as a former venture capitalist came from carried income and capital gains.