New York: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had declared a loss of USD 916 million on his 1995 income tax returns - a tax deduction so substantial that experts say it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for nearly 18 years.
According to the 1995 tax records obtained by the New York Times, Trump derived extraordinary tax benefits from his financial wreckage in the early 90s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Tax experts, who analysed the documents, conclude that Trump`s 1995 records said tax rules, especially advantageous to wealthy filers, would have allowed Trump to use his USD 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 USD 916 million loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than USD 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 realise you can create USD 916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?"However, Trump declined to comment on the documents.
Instead, the campaign released a statement that neither challenged nor confirmed the USD 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. 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," said the statement.
The statement added, "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."Trump`s refusal to make his tax returns public, breaking with decades of tradition in presidential contest, has emerged as a central issue in the campaign, with a majority of voters saying he should release them. Mr. Trump has declined to do so, and has said he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
Also at the presidential debate last Monday, when Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump was refusing to release his tax returns so voters would not know "he`s paid nothing in federal taxes, Trump retorted, "That makes me smart."The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Trump`s 1995 tax returns and represent only a small fraction of the voluminous tax returns he would have filed in 1995.