The New York Times has risked legal jeopardy by doing what Donald Trump has avoided and published the candidate’s tax return. Overnight the Times revealed Trump’s 1995 return and it is causing a sensation and giving ammunition to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The NYT received an envelope last month with a return address that indicated it was mailed from Trump Tower in New York City. Inside were three pages of Trump’s 1995 tax return, the first page of Trump’s New York State resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return. The Times received the documents last month and they were confirmed as authentic by Jack Mitnick, a lawyer and certified public accountant who handled Trump’s tax filings until 1996.
In 1995, Trump was losing his fortune due to a series of business failures that included the failure of his Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos, Trump Airlines and the purchase of the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City. Trump claimed a staggering loss of close to $916 million. Because of these losses and the tax code, Trump was allowed to carry back the remaining losses three years from when they were incurred, or carry them forward up to 15 years until they were exhausted. Which means he also avoided paying taxes from his $100K per episode pay on his hit show “The Apprentice.”
The Trump campaign issued the following statement:
“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. 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.”
This stunning information caused Bret Stephens, deputy editorial page director for the Wall Street Journal to tweet “Trump paid nothing in taxes not because he’s a smart businessman but because he’s a failed one. That’s the takeaway.”
During last month’s first presidential debate when asked about his not releasing his returns and paying his fair share of taxes, Trump responded: “That makes me smart.” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook has now stated “He stiffed small businesses, laid off workers, and walked away from hardworking communities. And how did it work out for him? He apparently got to avoid paying taxes for nearly two decades.”
Lawyers for Trump have threatened legal action ageist The Times for releasing the information. It is claimed that since Trump did not authorize the release of his taxes, publishing the information is a violation of federal law. However, Trump has not denied that the information found in the returns is true.