- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 1, 2016

Donald Trump claimed a $916 million net operating loss on his 1995 tax returns — a deduction so massive it could have shielded him from any tax liability for up to 18 years, the New York Times reported Saturday, after obtaining the records.

The Trump campaign bristled at the report, saying his return was “illegally obtained,” and saying that Mr. Trump had a fiduciary duty to his company to maximize his deductions allowed by law.

The New York Times posted three pages from Mr. Trump’s New York and New Jersey returns from 1995. It said the documents were mailed to a reporter at the paper, and the paper vetted them with the man who prepared Mr. Trump’s taxes that year and who called the returns “legit.”

Mr. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, breaking a tradition going back decades. He says he’s facing an audit and his accountants have said it would be unwise to release the documents in the midst of that — though there is no legal prohibition on it. Neither is there any legal requirement that he release the returns.

In its statement the Trump campaign accused the New York Times of trying to aid Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and defended Mr. Trump’s business conduct — though it did not confirm or deny the information on the documents.

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,” the campaign said. “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, along with very substantial charitable contributions. Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”

On Monday, squaring off against Mrs. Clinton in their first debate, Mr. Trump said it would be “smart” if he structured his finances so he had no income tax liability.

He also said he would release his tax returns if Mrs. Clinton would release the tens of thousands of email messages from her secret email account that she said she deleted as private.

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