President Donald Trump responded Wednesday to a story claiming he previously lost nearly $1.2 billion over a 10-year span, calling the report “a highly inaccurate fake news hit job.”
What are the details?
The New York Times reported that from 1985 to 1994, the president incurred a total of $1.17 billion in losses. While the Times was unable to obtain the president’s actual returns, the paper wrote that “it received the information contained in the returns from someone who had legal access to it,” and were “then able to find matching results” in an IRS database wherein taxpayers’ identities are not revealed.
The Times further claimed that through its previous research, it discovered “much of the money Mr. Trump had received from his father came from his participation in dubious tax schemes, including instances of outright fraud.”
President Trump did not call out the Times by name in his response, but tweeted after the report was published:
“Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, 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. Much was non monetary.”
The president added, “You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes…almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!”
What did the president’s lawyer say?
Charles Harder, an attorney for the president, also responded to the Times with a statement, saying, “We understand that your story relies upon IRS tax transcripts from the 1980s, rather than the actual tax returns. You cannot rely upon IRS tax transcripts from so long ago,” ABC News reported.
Harder continued, “To the extent any such documents even exist, they are inherently unreliable. IRS transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate, incomplete and selective in any information that may have been manually inputted into (or omitted from) the IRS system.”
He added, “Drawing any conclusions from a purported tax transcript would be speculative at best, and constitute irresponsible and unethical reporting.”