Donald Trump has claimed that the 1995 tax documents reported by the New York Times show he’s understands “the tax laws better than almost anyone,” but the accountant who prepared Trump’s taxes that year threw cold water on Trump’s claim in an interview published Tuesday.
“I did all the tax preparation. He never saw the product until it was presented to him for signature,” the Trump family’s former tax accountant Jack Mitnick told Inside Edition. “I’m the one who did all the work.”
After the Times released its report revealing that Trump could have used a $916 million net operating loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years, Trump has tried to spin the report into an account of his brilliance.
“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them,” he said at a campaign rally on Monday. “I understand it. I get it. And that is what I commit to do.”
And his surrogates have claimed that the tax documents prove Trump is a “genius” with taxes.
But Mitnick’s comments to Inside Edition suggest that Trump did not study up on the details of the tax code.
Mitnick gave a similar impression of Trump’s involvement in the process in an interview with the New York Times. He said that Trump’s first wife, Ivana, was more engaged in the tax preparation than Trump was. Per the New York Times:
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Mitnick said he could not divulge details of Mr. Trump’s finances without Mr. Trump’s consent. But he did talk about Mr. Trump’s approaches to taxes, and he contrasted Fred Trump’s attention to detail with what he described as Mr. Trump’s brash and undisciplined style. He recalled, for example, that when Donald and Ivana Trump came in each year to sign their tax forms, it was almost always Ivana who asked more questions.
Mitnick did tell the Times that Trump understood that he could use the tax code to his advantage.
“He knew we could use the tax code to protect him,” he said.