- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s big tax write-off in the 1990s shows that he is best suited to reform America’s byzantine tax code.

Mr. Christie, a former primary rival who who now leads the Trump campaign’s transition team, stressed that Mr. Trump followed the law and that a report about his nearly $1 billion loss report in a 1996 tax return did not prove that the New York billionaire didn’t pay federal taxes.

“What it shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is, and that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it. There’s no one who’s shown more genius in the way to maneuver around the tax code and rightfully used the laws to do that,” Mr. Christie said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“He’s promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don’t have this kind of situation,” he said. “The worst part is … this is a tax code people in America suffer under every day.”

He insisted that Mr. Trump pays plenty of taxes.

“What we have said is Mr. Trump has paid millions and millions and millions of dollars in taxes — state and local taxes, property taxes and federal income taxes over time,” said the governor. “You can’t come on TV this morning and say, ‘Donald Trump did not pay taxes for years and years,’ when that is not what the story says.”

A 1996 state tax return obtained by The New York Times showed Mr. Trump claiming a $916 million net operating loss. The massive deduction could have shielded him from any tax liability for up to 18 years, according to tax experts.

The report added pressure on Mr. Trump to release his tax returns, which he has refused to do because he is being audited by the IRS.

There is no legal prohibition against releasing tax records amid an audit. There also is no legal requirement that he release the returns, although every presidential candidate for the last 40 years has done so.

Mr. Christie and other of Mr. Trump’s surrogates, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were on the political talk shows to beat back the report.

“Even their own tax expert, after a big splashy headline, said there was nothing in there that was outside the law or outside the ordinary,” said Mr. Christie.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Giuliani bother used the word “genius” to describe Mr. Trump’s tax maneuvers.

“The genius of Donald Trump has been to make sure that he follows the law, which is exactly what he’s done,” said Mr. Christie. “Politically he has said he is going to change these laws and there’s no one who is better suited to change these laws than someone like him that has been subjected to audit after audit by the IRS year after year after year.”

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