October 14, 2019 - Douglas Myser

Trump's taxes may get political. The recent decision by a Federal Judge to allow the Manhattan prosecutor's office to obtain President Trump's taxes may throw a wrench into the election. Even though Trump has appealed, the process may play out prior to the election, and what happens then is only known to Trump and his inner circle. President Trump has zealously guarded his tax returns from public disclosure, and he is headed for a legal showdown with House Democrats who want to pry them loose. But even as that battle plays out, there are some details that have already emerged about Trump's troubled financial history. Here's what we know and don't know about Trump's personal and business taxes. Trump's taxes may get political.

Trump claimed $1.17 billion in losses from 1985 to 1994, allowing him to avoid taxes for eight of those years, according to IRS tax transcripts obtained by the New York Times and reported to the public. That includes red ink from scattered business ventures that soured, including his casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. "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 IRS information for those years", the Times said. Trump also benefited from the ability to write down the costs of his real estate, something known as depreciation. Trump says it was all part of the "sport" of doing business back then.

"Sometimes considered tax shelter, you would get in by building, or even buying, he wrote on Twitter. "You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes--almost all real estate developers did-and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport," he continued. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 1978 and  1979, and apparently none or next to none in 1991 and 1993, based on records from New Jersey gaming regulators. He reported negative income for 1978 and 1979. Casino losses and hotel losses were cited for the 1990s.

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