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Trump lost $1 billion in just 10 years, according to taxes he’s hiding

Trump lost more money than any other American taxpayer.

By Lisa Needham - May 07, 2019
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Donald Trump

In just a decade, Trump managed to lose over $1 billion. That’s quite an achievement.

The New York Times got access to 10 years of IRS transcripts of Trump tax data spanning 1985 to 1994. That data shows that Trump lost money on an unprecedented scale during that time.

When Trump was running for office, he touted his financial acumen as the reason he should be president. Like so much else about Trump, it was a complete fabrication. By any metric, the man is terrible with money.

The piece is a brutal year-by-year slog through what the Times calls “a precise accounting of the president’s financial failures.” In 1985, for example, his main businesses wracked up $46 million in losses. In 1989? Much worse. That year, he started the ill-fated Trump Airlines, and his businesses hemorrhaged $181 million.

The next year saw the Trump Taj Mahal go so far into the red that it dragged Trump’s other casino businesses down with it, leading to a two-year stretch where he lost over $500 million. By the time 1994 came to a close, Trump had managed to lose $1.17 billion in just 10 years.

In fact, the only way Trump made money during this tumultuous decade was by lying. From 1986 to 1988, he had a rich person’s cottage industry of threatening to take over other companies, which netted him millions in the stock market. However, once people realized he was bluffing, he lost most of that money.

Trump’s losses were so spectacular that he outstripped the losses of nearly anyone else. His net operating losses piled up so high circa 1991 — almost $418 million — that Trump personally accounted for 1% of all individual taxpayer losses in the year.

And that year wasn’t an outlier. By comparing Trump’s losses to publicly available information on high earners, the Times was able to conclude that “year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.”

The Times did give Trump a chance to comment before running the piece, and his lawyer basically called the IRS fake news, saying that IRS transcripts before the era of e-filing were “notoriously inaccurate” and couldn’t provide a reasonable picture of Trump’s returns.

That nonsense was easily debunked. A former director of research at the IRS told the Times that the data used to create IRS transcripts was rigorously checked and had “undergone quality control for decades.”

Turns out Trump, who perpetually boasts of being the best at everything, really is the best at something: being a loser.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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