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Trump’s 1995 tax records claim $916 million loss
Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.
The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.
Although Trump’s taxable income in subsequent years is as yet unknown, a $916 million loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.
“He has a vast benefit from his destruction” in the early 1990s, said one of the experts, Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Rosenfeld offered this description of what he would advise a client who came to him with a tax return like Trump’s: “Do you realize you can create $916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?”
Trump declined to comment on the documents. Instead, the campaign released a statement that neither challenged nor confirmed the $916 million loss.
“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 statement said. “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.”
The tax experts consulted by The Times said that nothing in the 1995 documents suggested any wrongdoing by Trump, even if the extraordinary size of the loss he declared would have probably attracted extra scrutiny from Internal Revenue Service examiners.
“The IRS, when they see a negative $916 million, that has to pop out,” Rosenfeld said.
The documents examined by The Times represent a small fraction of the voluminous tax returns Trump would have filed in 1995. The three documents arrived by mail at The Times with a postmark indicating they had been sent from New York City. The return address claimed the envelope had been sent from Trump Tower.
On Wednesday, The Times presented the tax documents to Jack Mitnick, a lawyer and certified public accountant who handled Trump’s tax matters for more than 30 years, until 1996. Mitnick, 80, now semiretired and living in Florida, said that the documents appeared to be authentic copies of portions of Trump’s 1995 tax returns.