MANHEIM, Pa. — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump faced another headache late Saturday: A New York Times story which said that, based on a tax document it obtained, Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income — a deduction so large it would have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income taxes for 18 years.
The Trump campaign said the Times "illegally obtained" a 20-year-old document and applied a misleading spin.
"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, along with very substantial charitable contributions."
The Trump statement did not provide specifics.
Trump's refusal to release his tax returns — as every presidential nominee has since the 1970s — has been a constant source of criticism from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and her allies.
The New York businessman says he doesn't want to release his returns because they are under audit.
In its story, the Times said it hired tax experts who reported that "rules that are especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period."
The Times added: "Although Mr. Trump’s taxable income in subsequent years is as yet unknown, a $916 million loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years."
The tax story surfaced as Trump delivered a speech in Pennsylvania that included scathing attacks on Clinton, on items ranging from her public record to her physical and mental health to the state of her marriage to former president Bill Clinton.
"This was a poor attempt to bamboozle people out of paying attention to the smoking gun report on his tax returns," tweeted Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.
In a statement, the Clinton campaign said, "this bombshell report reveals the colossal nature of Donald Trump's past business failures and just how long he may have avoided paying any federal income taxes whatsoever."