- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2019

President Trump reported losing more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing tax records it obtained.

Mr. Trump lost so much money as a real-estate developer and casino owner that he avoided paying federal income taxes for eight of the 10 years the paper reviewed.

The report comes as congressional Democrats have demanded access to more recent presidential tax returns, asking the IRS to release the president’s personal returns as well as those for some of his businesses.

The Treasury Department this week rejected that request, calling Democrats’ interest a partisan fishing expedition rather than a legitimate use of Congress’s investigative powers.

And the New York state Senate is expected to pass a Democratic proposal Wednesday to allow the release of Mr. Trump’s state tax returns. If that measure becomes law, the state could turn over Mr. Trump’s New York returns to Congress upon request.



Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the new information makes it imperative for Congress to obtain Mr. Trump’s more recent federal tax returns.

“We will continue to demand them pursuant to Congress’s clear power” under the tax code, Mr. Pascrell said. “We now have another part of the truth. We need a lot more.”

Though he portrayed himself as a wildly successful businessman, Mr. Trump was actually piling up losses, the newspaper said. It said he may have lost more than any other American during that period.

For example, in 1985 Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from what the Times called his core businesses of casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings.

Over the 10 years, he reported $1.17 billion in losses.

“The businessman has no clothes,” tweeted Walter Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and a frequent Trump critic.

Mr. Pascrell said the report shows that “Donald Trump’s entire tenure is built upon the most colossal fraud in American political history.”

“As these records make clear, Trump was perhaps the worst businessman in the world,” the lawmaker said. “His entire campaign was a lie. He didn’t pay taxes for years and lost over one billion dollars — how is that possible? How did he keep getting more money and where on earth was it all going? We need to know now.”

The Times said it didn’t obtain the president’s actual returns, but did see information contained in the returns, which came from “someone who had legal access to it.”

The president’s team questioned the paper’s numbers, suggesting IRS transcripts from that period were unreliable.

The Times said it obtained other data from its source concerning Fred Trump, the president’s father, and those records matched up with the elder Trump’s tax information which the paper had already obtained.

The newspaper also gave insight into Mr. Trump’s income stream, which it said changed year to year. Some years it was dominated by stock earnings, while one year he claimed more than $67.1 million in salary, and another time showed what the paper called a “mysterious $52.9 million windfall in interest income.”

In the latter years of the 1980s, Mr. Trump made money by suggesting he was about to take over companies, making millions of dollars off soaring stocks — then losing those gains “after investors stopped taking his takeover talk seriously,” the paper said.

It was previously known that Mr. Trump had suffered business setbacks during the period in question. But the size of his losses could lead to more questions about how he managed to keep his empire afloat.

And the lack of paying federal income taxes for an extended period is certain to be raised by Democrats as a campaign issue in 2020. When Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Mr. Trump during a presidential debate in 2016 of not paying federal taxes, he quipped, “That makes me smart.”

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