Two of Donald Trump’s top campaign surrogates have described the Republican presidential nominee as a “genius” following the revelation that he declared a loss of almost a billion dollars on his 1995 income tax return.
“He’s a genius,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told ABC News on Sunday. “Absolute genius... This is a perfectly legal application of the tax code. And he would’ve been fool not to take advantage of it.”
The Trump campaign has threatened legal action against the New York Times, which on Saturday published a portion of the property mogul’s 1995 tax returns, posted to the newspaper by an anonymous source.
The pages showed Mr Trump declared a $916m loss after several financial disasters including a failed airline venture and three underperforming Atlantic City casinos, which, the Times noted, “could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie touted the story as evidence of Mr Trump’s financial know-how, telling Fox News, “There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to manoeuvre about the tax code.”
Messrs Christie and Giuliani were at pains to point out that Mr Trump’s offsetting of his vast losses against future income was entirely legal. The Clinton campaign and other opponents of the Republican nominee have suggested the documents show he is not the expert businessman he claims, and that he has failed to pay his fair share.
“Trump is a billion-dollar loser who won’t release his taxes because they’ll expose him as a spoiled, rich brat who lost the millions he inherited from his father,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement.
Mr Trump is still refusing to release his tax returns, but his campaign not deny the substance of the New York Times report in a statement released on Saturday. “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,” the statement said.
“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, along with very substantial charitable contributions.”
During the first presidential debate on Monday, Mr Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton posited several theories regarding his reluctance to release his returns, including that he pays little or no income tax, that he is worth less than he claims, or that he overstates his charitable giving.Reuse content