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Trump Pays No Taxes Unlike His Financially-Illiterate Followers

Comments come after report found Trump paid no income tax in eight of 10 years in the ’80s and ’90s. Trump Pays No Taxes Unlike His Financially-Illiterate Followers

President Trump said Wednesday that the deep losses he reported for tax purposes in the 1980s and 1990s amounted to “sport,” citing write-offs and tax shelters allowed at the time to avoid taxes by the federal government.

Mr. Trump’s remarks on Twitter early Wednesday morning were made in response to a New York Times report from Tuesday that showed he had claimed loses of $1.17 billion from 1985 to 1994, and paid no income taxes in eight of those 10 years.

“You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes,” Mr. Trump said in a pair of early morning tweets. “Almost all real estate developers did—and often renegotiate with banks, it was sport.”

Mr. Trump claimed more losses than any other individual taxpayer in the U.S. during that time, according to the newspaper.

“Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter. “Sometimes considered ’tax shelter,’ you would get it by building, or even buying.”

Under current law, real-estate developers can generate losses more easily than other taxpayers. They can take deductions for depreciation of their property and can also deduct interest when they borrow, among other steps.

Mr. Trump has bucked decades of tradition set by every sitting president since Richard Nixon by refusing to make public his tax returns. Mr. Trump’s predecessors and many of his potential rivals in the 2020 campaign have released tax returns as a show of transparency, allowing voters to see how they made money and where potential conflicts of interest may exist.

Mr. Trump has refused to release his returns, citing a continuing IRS audit.

No law prevents him from releasing returns while under audit, as previous presidents have.

Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected House Democrats’ request for Mr. Trump’s tax returns. The move will likely send the dispute into federal court.

The Times report was based on what the newspaper said were printouts from Mr. Trump’s IRS transcripts.

Updated: 9-22-2019

Trump Sues To Block Latest Bid For Tax Returns

Lawsuit, filed to block efforts by Manhattan DA, is latest move in battle over president’s taxes.

President Trump filed a lawsuit Thursday to block New York prosecutors’ subpoena for his tax returns, the latest salvo in a continuing battle over the disclosure of the president’s financial information.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and accounting firm Mazars USA LLP, comes in response to a subpoena state prosecutors sent last month to the accounting firm requesting eight years of personal and business tax returns.

State prosecutors are examining whether a payment to former adult-film star Stormy Daniels—and how the reimbursement of that payment was recorded—violates a state law against falsifying business records.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argue that the subpoena is unconstitutional.

“The Constitution prohibits States from subjecting the President to criminal process while he is in office,” the complaint says. It adds, “The prohibition on criminally prosecuting a sitting President cannot be circumvented by limiting the investigation to a grand-jury subpoena, or by not subpoenaing the President directly.”

A spokeswoman for Mazars said the firm would comply with its legal obligations. A spokesman for Mr. Vance said the office had received the complaint and would respond in court.

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said in a statement, “We are in court to protect the president’s rights and the Constitution.”

On Aug. 1, the district attorney issued a grand-jury subpoena to the Trump Organization for documents relating to payments for or agreements about former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and Ms. Daniels.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers began producing those documents, the complaint says.

On Aug. 29, a second grand-jury subpoena, sent to Mazars, requested tax returns and other financial documents dating to 2011. That subpoena required Mazars to produce the documents by 2 p.m. on Sept. 19, although the district attorney offered a brief extension, according to the complaint.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are asking a judge to rule the subpoena is invalid while the president is in office.

Justice Department policy bars the indictment of a sitting president. But the question of whether a president can be subject to a criminal process, including the tax-return requests, is unsettled, said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School and former Manhattan prosecutor.

To successfully fight the subpoenas, she said, Mr. Trump’s lawyers will likely have to convince a court that the investigation impedes his presidency. “To succeed on that there is going to have to be some novel interpretation of the law,” said Ms. Roiphe.

While typically courts prefer not to intervene in debates over subpoenas, it is possible that this or a similar legal challenge could be heard by the Supreme Court, she said.

Throughout his administration, Mr. Trump has aggressively fought investigators’ efforts to obtain his tax returns. In April, the Trump Organization sued the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Mazars in an attempt to block a subpoena from the committee to the accounting firm for tax returns.

Later that month, Mr. Trump and his three oldest children sued Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. after the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees subpoenaed financial records of Mr. Trump, his children and his businesses from the banks.

In August, Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court it has copies of tax returns sought under that subpoena. Capital One told the court it didn’t have the tax returns requested by the subpoena.

The appeals court hasn’t issued its ruling.

New York state prosecutors’ probe comes on the heels of a federal investigation into hush-money payments arranged by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, that concluded this summer. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including violating campaign-finance laws by arranging the hush payments, which he said—and federal prosecutors later affirmed—that the president directed him to make. Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing. Mr. Cohen began a three-year prison sentence in May.

Investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office interviewed Mr. Cohen last month at the federal prison in upstate New York where he is serving his sentence, according to a person familiar with the matter.

 

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