Some of Donald Trump’s tax returns have been released, however they are over 20 years old. Still, what they show is that Trump took a massive loss in 1995, enough to possibly preclude him from paying income taxes for 18 years.
That time someone mailed me Donald Trump's tax returns https://t.co/ZiAlRaF6tP
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) October 2, 2016
The documents were sent to The New York Times via traditional mail. The postmark was from New York City, but the return address read that they came from Trump tower itself.
From the report:
Although Mr. 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.
The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of “The Apprentice,” or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.
There were other revelations, such as Trump claiming $7.4 million in revenue earned from interest, but only $6, 108 in wages, salaries, and tips. However, the loss of nearly a billion dollars that year does not suggest Trump was insolvent. The Times notes that this form does not show how Trump valuated his assets that year. These pages would just be a tiny portion of Trump’s full tax return.
Still the loss, known as “net operating loss” would allow Trump to “cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income” he earned in the years following this filing.
In order to determine the documents’ authenticity, The Times tracked down Jack Mitnick, the longtime accountant for the Trump family. Now 80 and living in Florida, he looked at the documents, “stabbing his finger” at them and saying, “This is legit.” He also noted how the software he was using at the time wasn’t capable of entering a loss of $916 million. So Mitnick had to amend the forms using a typewriter, which is why the first numbers in the documents are misaligned and in a different font.
From The Times:
Mr. Mitnick, though, said there were times when even he, for all his years helping wealthy New Yorkers navigate the tax code, found it difficult to face the incongruity of his work for Mr. Trump. He felt keenly aware that Mr. Trump was living a life of unimaginable luxury thanks in part to Mr. Mitnick’s ability to relieve him of the burden of paying taxes like everyone else.
“Here the guy was building incredible net worth and not paying tax on it,” he said.
It’s also worth noting, in fairness, that this does not mean that Trump lost all of this money in a single year. It could also included losses carried forward from previous years. However, these returns come from a time when Trump was up-to-his-neck in his New York real estate follies and disastrous run as a casino owner.
One final point, that the return address on the envelope says it came from Trump Tower does not mean for certain that it did come from there. It could just as easily be a bit of trolling on the part of the source, either as way to obfuscate the actual source or simply to make Trump think he has a mole in his staff. Or, maybe Trump leaked them himself?
It’s not a crazy suggestion, as Trump has acted as his own guerrilla publicist before. Politically, this should help shift the tone of the news cycle–even on a night when Trump mocked Clinton’s pneumonia and suggested she’s cheated on husband Bill–but it might actually play well for Trump.
Trump could easily paint himself as the victim, since it’s illegal to publish a person’s tax returns without their consent. It’s also not inconceivable that he can spin this into his knowledge* of taxes, and thus how he’s the perfect one to fix the system.
What do you think? Will this be an issue or will it spin into a positive news cycle for Trump? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
*Author’s Note: Though really, it’s Mr. Mitnick’s knowledge, isn’t it?