Donald Trump acknowledged Monday that he had been a “big beneficiary” of America’s complex tax laws, a distinction which he said uniquely qualified him to “fix” the broken system.
“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Pueblo, Colorado. “I understand it. I get it. And that is what I commit to do.
“I’m working for you now,” Trump said. “I’m not working for Trump.”
At a campaign rally on Monday, Hillary Clinton skewered Trump’s claims of being a “genius” businessman.
“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” Clinton asked an enthusiastic crowd. “He’s taking corporate excess and making a business model out of it. He abuses his power and games the system and puts his own interests ahead of the country. It is Trump first and every one else last.”
Trump said he had a “fiduciary responsibility” to pay as little tax as possible, and that he “hate[d] the way they spend our tax dollars,” a response to a ground-breaking New York Times report over the weekend that revealed a $916 million business loss in 1995 could have prevented Trump from paying federal income tax for the next 18 years.
Trump referred to the document, which the Times verified with Trump’s tax preparer at the time, as “an alleged tax filing from the ’90s.”
“Fiduciary responsibility” typically refers to a company’s responsibility to shareholders to earn profit within the limits of the law. It does not apply to the personal tax returns discussed in the New York Times story Saturday.
Justifying the huge losses in 1995, Trump called the year “the end of one of the most brutal economic downturns in our history,” and compared it to the Great Depression for the real estate business.
“Some of the biggest and strongest people in companies went absolutely bankrupt. Which I never did, by the way,” Trump said. “Are you proud of me? Would have loved to have used that card, but I just didn’t want to do it.”
In fact, Trump has declared six business bankruptcies over the course of his career, as documented by Politifact. Saturday’s Times report referenced the opinions of tax experts who claimed that Trump’s 1995 losses “almost certainly included large net operating losses carried forward from the early 1990s”.
Four Trump businesses — The Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Castle, Trump Plaza & Casino, and the Plaza Hotel — filed for bankruptcy between 1991 and 1992.
This article has been updated.