NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, October 1, 2016, 10:50 PM
It turns out Donald Trump’s catastrophic business failures had a yuuuge upside.
The GOP presidential wannabe declared a stunning $ 916 million loss on his 1995 tax return — a deficit so large it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, according to bombshell tax documents verified by the New York Times.
“He has a vast benefit from his destruction,” NYU assistant professor Joel Rosenfeld told the Times.
The three documents — the first page of Trump’s New York State resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return — were also sent to the Daily News.
Calls for Trump to release his tax returns have dogged the New York real estate mogul since he emerged as the GOP frontrunner.
Trump holds the dubious distinction of being the first Republican presidential candidate in roughly 40 years — since Gerald Ford — not to release his tax returns during an election.
Trump declined to comment on the damning tax documents obtained by The Times. But his campaign released a statement that failed to address the nearly billion dollar loss.
The $ 916 million loss Trump declared in 1995 means he could have avoided paying income taxes for nearly two decades.
“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said.
“That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes.”
The statement added: “Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”
A lawyer for Trump also threatened to sue over the publication of the tax forms.
Jack Mitnick, a lawyer and certified public accountant who handled Trump’s tax flings until 1996, confirmed to the Times that the forms were genuine.
“This is legit,” he said, tapping his finger on the New York return.
Trump has steadfastly refused calls to release the documents during his 2016 campaign.
The $ 916 million loss came at a time when Trump was already known to be bleeding cash .
Fueled by massive losses at his Atlantic City casinos and airline, Trump’s business empire was teetering on the edge of a financial abyss by 1990.
The tax documents don’t offer any window into Trump’s earnings or charitable donations in 1995.
But the astronomical loss he reported could explain one of his most shocking statements during last week’s presidential debate.
As Clinton speculated that Trump was refusing to release his returns because they showed he hadn’t paid any federal income tax, the erratic candidate interrupted her with a whopper of an admission.
“That makes me smart,” he blurted out.
Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home in 1995, the year he reported losses of nearly $ 1 billion.
According to his longtime accountant, Trump wasn’t especially astute when it came to tax strategies.
Unlike his meticulous father, Trump seemed mostly indifferent about his financial forms.
When he and then-wife Ivana Trump came into Mitnick’s office to sign the forms, Ivana was the one who typically did the talking, the accountant told the Times.
He was far from an expert but there was one important thing that Trump did understand, Mitnick said.
“He knew we could use the tax code to protect him,” Mitnick added.