Trump campaign surrogates have been claiming that their snarling hero is a tax “genius” who has used the tax laws “brilliantly.” Trump himself claims to understand the tax laws “better than almost anyone,” which ostensibly shows what a great president he would be.
But Jack Mitnick, the semi-retired 80-year-old accountant who actually prepared the 1995 tax return with the $900 million loss, reports that Trump' played no role whatsoever in preparing his own tax returns. Indeed, as paraphrased by the Times, Mitnick reports that Trump, unlike his own father, “lacked a sophisticated understanding of the tax code, and … rarely showed any interest in the details behind various tax strategies.” All he knew was that the people working for him “could use the tax code to protect him.”
The one thing Trump apparently did do was show up annually, with his then-wife Ivana, to sign the tax forms, but even then “it was almost always Ivana who asked more questions.”
The Times also quotes Mitnick as saying that Trump's “use of net operating losses was no different from that of his other wealthy clients. 'This may have had a couple extra digits compared to someone else's operation, but they all benefited in the same way.'”
Genius in the form of generating losses with “a couple extra digits” is something, perhaps, but not quite the same as what we have been hearing about from the Trump campaign.