Donald Trump has responded to a report by The New York Times which revealed his businesses posted losses of $1.17bn (£900m) between 1985 and 1994. The US president did not deny the figures but seemed to claim instead that he listed losses to avoid paying income tax.
“Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write-offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
“Much was non-monetary. Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes….almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport.
“Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!”
The New York Times based their report on printouts form IRS tax receipts. Trump’s recorded business losses – which peaked with $46.1m (£35.4m) in 1985 – meant that he paid no income tax for eight out of the ten years examined.
Steve Rosenthal, a tax lawyer and policy analyst, wrote a paper called ‘Protecting Trump’s $916 Million of NOLs (net operating losses)’. In it he said: “Documents filed in the bankruptcy court suggest that Trump aggressively stretched the law to side-step hundreds of millions of dollars of taxable income from restructuring his public debt.”
Mr Rosenthal tweeted: “Sure, Trump operated his businesses at a spectacular loss. But he borrowed, spent, and deducted money from other people. And, after he defaulted on the funds he borrowed, he did not report income.”
Mr Trump has refused consistently to release his tax returns – the first POTUS to do so since Watergate. The Democrats are preparing for a legal battle with the Trump administration to force the release of Trump’s tax returns from 2013 to 2018.
A lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, wrote that the tax information was “demonstrably false,” and that the paper’s statements “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.” He did not specify which details were incorrect.
The president has filed lawsuits against his banks and accounting firm to prevent them from cooperating with subpoenas and turning over financial records.