We all know that our president is a terrible businessman, but information about his federal income tax returns obtained by the New York Times showss that he is even worse than previously thought. Between the years of 1985 and 1994, Trump lost an astonishing $1.17 billion.
Trump literally lost more money than any other individual American taxpayer during these years, the Times found:
In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.
The plus side of all these losses for Trump was that he wasn’t required to pay income tax for eight out of the ten years surveyed by the Times. But that respite still didn’t make up for his massive losses.
The Times still wasn’t able to obtain Trump’s actual returns, just information about what was in them. They then used publicly available IRS information on high earners to match what they knew about Trump’s returns and confirm the information.
The White House’s response to the Times report has been odd, to say the least. First, a senior official issued a statement that alleged that Trump knows that the tax code is broken because he himself didn’t have to pay taxes.
“The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes,” the official said.
Later, Trump lawyer Charles Harder told the Times that the information was “demonstrably false,” and that the Times’ report “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.” (Yes, that is the same Charles Harder who took down Gawker on the behalf of billionaire Peter Thiel.)
“IRS transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate,” Harder added, without listing any specific inaccuracies.
Mark J. Mazur, a former director of research at the IRS, says this isn’t true. Mazur told the Times that transcripts are in fact accurate summaries of tax returns.
There’s plenty of other fun details in the Times report, like the millions of dollars Trump made (and then lost) on the stock market in the late ‘80s by threatening to take over companies and then backing out, or the staggering losses he accrued each year buying hotels and buildings that never made a profit, which sometimes added up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
But as fun as these tidbits are, these aren’t the tax returns that Congress is currently trying to extricate from the president. Those returns encompass the last ten years before Trump took office. Trump broke with four decades of tradition when he refused to release these returns, and now that Democrats control the House, he doesn’t seem any more inclined to cooperate.
On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he wouldn’t be handing Trump’s returns over to Congress. Trump himself has said he is “fighting all the subpoenas” the Congress may issue for his returns, and he’s already sued House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings over one subpoena.
Read the rest of the report over at the New York Times.