DONALD Trump was facing renewed pressure to release his personal tax information after a New York Times report that he recorded a $916m loss on his 1995 income tax return, a deduction that might have allowed him to cut his federal income tax for several ensuing years.
The Times, citing tax analysts, reported at the weekend that based on Trump’s 1995 income tax documents, he might have been able to reduce his tax bills for as many as 18 years.
The newspaper posted to its website three documents, which purported to be from state tax returns in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. It said it had received the documents in the mail in September.
Trump’s campaign said in a statement that he "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".
It also said the tax documents — which it referred to as an "alleged tax document", had been "illegally obtained".
"I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them," Trump said on Twitter.
Departing from about 40 years of tradition for presidential nominees, Trump has declined to release his tax returns.
He says they are under an Internal Revenue Service audit and that he will not release them until that audit has concluded.
There is no law preventing people from releasing their tax returns, even if they are under audit. But tax advisers say that doing so would subject the returns to public scrutiny that might surface issues auditors had missed.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has repeatedly faulted Trump over the lack of transparency, seized upon the Times report, calling it a "bombshell" that reveals both Trump’s past business failures and his tax avoidance.
Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted that the story showed "just how lousy a businessman he is and how long he may have avoided paying any taxes".
Trump responded: "That makes me smart."
In Saturday’s report, the New York Times cited a $916m loss and noted "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.
Several Republican operatives who worked for Trump’s opponents in the primary elections predicted the news would weigh heavily on the nominee in the November 8 election, arguing that voters will see his tax avoidance as a matter of fairness.
"Most Americans know you can’t avoid two things: death and taxes," said David Kochel, who was former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s chief strategist before Bush quit the presidential race.