Donald Trump walked right into this one. During the town hall debate on Sunday night, Trump confirmed a story in The New York Times that revealed that he had incurred a $916 million loss and that it may have allowed him to avoid paying income taxes for 18 years.
“This last month, taxes were the number one issue on Facebook for the first time,” moderator Anderson Cooper began. “The New York Times published your tax returns and show you claimed a loss, which means you could have avoided paying income taxes for years—and you said you paid state and employee and real estate and property taxes. Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying taxes?”
“Of course I do,” Trump said, immediately copping to it. “And so do all of her donors,” he said, gesturing to his opponent Hillary Clinton. “I know many of her donors. They take massive write-offs,” Trump said.
“A lot of my write-off was depreciation and she always allowed this. The people that give her all this money won it. I understand the tax code better than anyone and it’s complex.”
Pressed specifically about how many years he may have avoided paying taxes, Trump didn’t really have an answer.
“I have a write-off and a lot is depreciation. I love depreciation. She has given it to us,” Trump said, again trying to shift the blame to Clinton. “If she had a problem, for 30 years she talks about health care. Why didn’t you do something about it. Why didn’t she do something about this? She doesn’t do anything about anything other than talk. It’s all talk and no action. And again, Bernie Sanders, it’s really bad judgment.”
In the first debate, Trump received a similar question and when pressed about avoiding paying taxes, said, “that makes me smart.”
Trump has still not released his tax returns, as every other presidential candidate in history has done.