Trump seemingly tried to downplay the report, saying that “almost all real estate developers” wanted to show losses for tax purposes and renegotiate with banks, and it was “sport.”
His comments came after The New York Times published the article, based on 10 years of tax documents the newspaper acquired covering the years 1985 to 1994. The filings show that Trump’s businesses accrued tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in debt each year during that period, while Trump touted himself as a successful business icon.
The records also show that Trump did not pay federal income tax for eight of the 10 years it surveyed as he legally wrote off that debt as a tax deduction against any earnings. The Times said it was the most complete account of the president’s financial history to date after Trump broke longstanding precedent and refused to release any of his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,” the newspaper said.
The Times did not obtain Trump’s actual tax returns but said it obtained the information contained in them from a source “who had legal access to it.” The Times then compared the data to an Internal Revenue Service database.
The president’s lawyer Charles Harder rejected the assertions made in the Times’ report, saying they were “demonstrably false,” but he did not cite any specific errors.
The news is the latest in an ongoing saga over Trump’s tax returns and his vast business empire. Lawmakers have been issuing subpoenas and filing lawsuits at a record pace in an attempt to obtain his personal and business federal tax returns from 2013 to 2018, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that he would not comply with House Democrats’ legal request for the returns.
The Times story shows the president’s 2016 campaign was “rooted in lie upon lie,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) of the Senate Finance Committee said Wednesday in a statement.
“President Trump this morning sought to defend his business record by essentially claiming the losses were part of a shady scheme to avoid paying taxes,” Wyden said. “It’s a shocking admission of contempt for the law from the president of the United States.”
Trump and his children have also filed suit to block their banks from releasing any of his private financial documents in line with congressional subpoenas.
The case is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court.
This article has been updated with comment from Wyden.