Donald Trump ‘may have avoided paying taxes for years’

Report says billionaire may have legally avoided paying income tax for nearly two decades after massive loss in 1995.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump has repeatedly declined to release his tax returns despite mounting pressure [Reuters]

Donald Trump’s business losses in 1995 were so large that they could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income tax for up to 18 years, The New York Times reports.

In a story published early on Sunday, the Times said it anonymously received the first pages of Trump’s 1995 state income tax filings in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – showing a net loss of $915,729,293 in federal taxable income for that year.

According to tax experts hired by the newspaper, provisions in the tax code would have allowed Trump to use his near $916m loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

The Times said that although Trump’s taxable income in subsequent years is unknown, a $916m loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50m a year in taxable income over 18 years.

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Trump’s former accountant Jack Mitnick, whose name appears as Trump’s tax preparer of the filings, said the documents appeared to be authentic, the newspaper reported.

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“This is legit,” Mitnick was quoted as saying.

Trump’s campaign released a statement lashing out at the Times for publishing the records and accused the newspaper of working to benefit the Republican nominee’s presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party and their global special interests,” the campaign said, calling Trump “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”.

Trump’s campaign did not directly address the authenticity of the excerpts from Trump’s tax filings.

The Times said a lawyer for Trump argued that publication of the records would be illegal because Trump had not authorised their disclosure.

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In August, Clinton released her 2015 tax return along with her husband Bill, reporting $10.6m in income for 2015.

They paid $3.6m in federal income tax, according to documents posted on her campaign website.

Democrats hint that by not releasing his tax returns, Trump may be trying to hide that he pays little to no tax, makes less money than he claims, or gives a negligible amount to charity.

Trump has refused to make his filings public, saying they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service and he’ll release them only once that review is complete.

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies