The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump traded fierce accusations after The New York Times newspaper published what appears to be a portion of the Republican nominee’s 1995 federal tax returns.
Sent anonymously to The Times, the documents show Trump declared a $916 million loss in 1995, allowing the real estate mogul to pay no tax on income in subsequent years totaling the same amount.
The revelation came days after Clinton, a Democrat, repeatedly assailed Trump’s financial dealings and his refusal to release his tax returns at Monday’s presidential debate.
“In one year, Donald Trump lost nearly a billion dollars. A billion,” Clinton’s campaign said in a statement late Saturday. “He apparently got to avoid paying taxes for nearly two decades – while tens of millions of working families paid theirs.”
"The only news here is that the more than 20-year-old alleged tax document was illegally obtained, a further demonstration that the New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton Campaign,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.
"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,” the statement added.
Trump surrogates took to the airwaves Sunday to defend the nominee.
“This man, 26 years ago, had some failures and then he built an empire,” said former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on ABC’s This Week program. “He was a genius in being able to do that. America needs a turnaround right now, and Donald Trump is a turnaround artist.”
“If everybody in this country was a genius, like Mr. Trump is and not pay any taxes, we would not have a country,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who challenged Clinton for the Democratic nomination, also on ABC. “Secretary Clinton and I believe that the wealthiest people in this country should start paying their fair share [of taxes].”
The Times said the Trump tax records expose "the extraordinary tax benefits" he acquired from "the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s 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." The Times says the documents were mailed to a reporter at the newspaper from a New York address, and consisted of three pages.
Nothing in the documents sent to The Times shows illegal behavior by Trump. All Americans can offset taxable gains with financial losses. But in a political cycle where income inequality and transparency have been major issues, Trump’s tax history – what is known and unknown – is giving Democrats ample ammunition as the election draws closer.