Donald Trump said Wednesday that his businesses purposely lost more than $1 billion over the course of a decade as a way of avoiding paying taxes and gaming the system.
“You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes....almost all real estate developers did — and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport,” Trump tweeted.
The U.S. president was responding to a bombshell New York Times report published Tuesday evening that explained how Trump’s businesses lost $1.17 billion between 1985 and 1994.
The report, which was based on a review of printouts from Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, said that in 1990 and 1991 alone, Trump lost more than $250 million, which appeared to be more than double what any other U.S. taxpayer lost that year. He lost so much money in his casino, hotel, and real estate businesses that he was able to avoid paying income taxes in eight of the 10 years covered by the transcripts.
But it was all on purpose, the president claimed Wednesday:
“Real estate developers in the 1980s & 1990s, 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.”
The Times report, however, claims that depreciation could not account for the hundreds of millions of dollars in losses Trump declared.
Despite defending this practice, Trump also labeled the Times report a “highly inaccurate fake news hit job.”
Trump is currently fighting on multiple fronts to stop Democrats from getting their hands on his tax returns after he failed to fulfill a campaign promise to publish them once in office.
House Democrats want access to the returns to determine whether there's a conflict of interest posed by Trump’s continued ownership of multiple businesses. They are expected to file a lawsuit or subpoena the IRS for Trump’s returns after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to hand them over earlier this week.
“There doesn’t have to be an intermediary step,” House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal told reporters after Mnuchin’s decision, indicating Democrats were ready to go straight to federal court. “They seem not to be paying a lot of attention to the subpoenas, so take it from there. We think the law is unambiguous.”
Cover: Donald Trump signs copies of his book "Surviving at the Top" on Aug 20, 1990, at Waldenbook store in New York. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)