Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign was hit with a bombshell just five weeks before Election Day, as a new report shows he may have gone nearly two decades without paying federal income taxes.
The Republican presidential nominee reported a $916 million loss in 1995, an amount so substantial that he was legally allowed to not pay any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, according to records obtained by The New York Times.
The Times did not look at his federal return, but obtained one page of his New York State resident income tax return and the first page of New Jersey and Connecticut non-resident returns.
The documents were mailed in a manila envelope to Susanne Craig, a reporter for the newspaper, with a return address of The Trump Organization, but it is not clear who leaked the documents. They were signed by Trump and his wife at the time, Marla Maples.
Inside Edition has not independently verified the authenticity of the documents sent to the Times, but Trump’s campaign has not disputed the report.
“Trump, through his spokeswoman, did not challenge or confirm the tax records, but he threatened us with legal action if we were to publish them,” Craig wrote.
A statement from Trump’s campaign released to the Times said: “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.”
The statement went on: “Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”
Tax experts hired by The Times to examine the 1995 documents said they could see nothing that suggested any wrongdoing by Trump, but the real estate mogul’s opponents pounced on the revelation.
“This is exactly why so many millions of Americans are frustrated. They're angry, they're disgusted, at what they see as a corrupt political system in this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN.
At last Monday’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton accused Trump of not releasing his tax returns because then voters would know he “paid nothing in federal taxes.”
When she pointed out Trump once revealed to casino regulators that he paid no federal income taxes in the late 1970s, Trump said, “That makes me smart.”
But Trump surrogates did their best to spin it as a plus.
"The reality is, this is part of our tax code. The man's a genius. He knows how to operate the tax code to the benefit of the people he's serving," former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Sunday.
Trump’s behavior on The Apprentice has also been called into question, as former crew members, editors and contestants detailed crass comments made behind the scenes of the show, according to the Associated Press.
Trump was quoted as speculating which contestant would be a "tiger in bed,” while others said he rated contestants by their breast size.
“These outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false claims fabricated by publicity hungry, opportunistic, disgruntled former employees, have no merit whatsoever," Trump’s campaign said in a statement.