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Trump Responds After New York Times Reveals a Decade of His Tax Returns

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President Donald Trump lashed out at The New York Times on Wednesday after the newspaper reported that his taxes from the turbulent 1980s and 1990s showed more than $1 billion in losses.

The Times report, titled “A Decade in the Red,” said that “10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.”

However, in a pair of tweets, Trump said The Times does not know what it is talking about.

“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. 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!” Trump tweeted.

The 1980s and 1990s were a boom-and-bust era in real estate as well as banking, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has noted in a report on its website.

Is this report a “hit job” as President Trump contends?

Trump’s more recent tax returns have been an issue ever since Trump said that he would not honor the custom of presidents releasing them. House Democrats have claimed that release of the returns is vital to rooting out potential conflicts of interest and are thus trying to secure them. The tax returns The Times reported on date from 1985 to 1994 and are not those Democrats are seeking.

In a separate Democrat-led effort, New York State has pushed to obtain and make public Trump’s state tax returns, Time has reported.

The Times report on Trump’s taxes from 1985 to 1994 said that it did not obtain Trump’s actual returns.

The report gave the following explanation about how The Times was able to determine Trump’s finances without his returns:

“While The Times did not obtain the president’s actual tax returns, it received the information contained in the returns from someone who had legal access to it. The Times was then able to find matching results in the I.R.S. information on top earners — a publicly available database that each year comprises a one-third sampling of those taxpayers, with identifying details removed. It also confirmed significant findings using other public documents, along with confidential Trump family tax and financial records from the newspaper’s 2018 investigation into the origin of the president’s wealth.”

The Times said Trump lost more than “nearly any other individual American taxpayer” without saying how it reached that conclusion.

The report said that in eight of the 10 years covered, Trump did not pay any income tax.

The Times report carried comments scoffing at its conclusions.

“The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes,” The Times report quoted a senior administration official as saying.

Charles J. Harder, a lawyer for Trump, wrote to The Times that the information it was using was “demonstrably false,” and that its claims “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.”

“I.R.S. transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate” and “would not be able to provide a reasonable picture of any taxpayer’s return,” Harder said in a follow-up statement, The Times reported. It then contrasted Harder’s statement with that of a former IRS official who said the information was accurate.

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