In a phone interview Sunday with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, businessman and Hillary Clinton supporter Mark Cuban said voters shouldn’t assume $916 million in business losses Donald Trump reported on his tax return in 1995 was simply the result of failed casinos.
“It’s just as possible, because we don’t have any details behind this front page of his New York and New Jersey returns, that this is a tax shelter,” Cuban said. “We’re presuming it’s a real estate deal that went bad, but it could just as easily be a tax shelter for him to avoid income taxes.”
Trump’s losses, revealed by the New York Times Saturday night, could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years. The Times reported that mismanagement of Trump’s three Atlantic City casinos, and business failures around his Trump Shuttle and Plaza Hotel projects, led to the huge figure.
But Cuban said voters shouldn’t rush to the conclusion that Trump’s loss is simply the result of failed casinos.
“If Donald is taking tax shortcuts, maybe he bought an insurance company instead of doing something in real estate,” Cuban speculated, “and he took a huge tax write-off to offset income.”
“We’ve all heard about tax scams and tax shelters, right? What we don’t know is whether or not this is a tax shelter,” he added. “This could be something where he got involved in currencies or insurance tax shelters, there a thousand and one tax shelters that were very aggressive and were being offered at the time.”
Cuban recalled that in the ’90s, “there were accounting companies, accounting agencies, and tax shelter companies coming to me, offering me ways to offset my income so I didn’t have to pay taxes.”
“We don’t know. And that’s the inherent problem,” he continued. “There’s no transparency, and he is so ashamed of what he’s done, he’s not willing to speak up and explain to us what happened.”