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Another chapter in the saga of Trump, transparency and tax returns

Monday, October 3, 2016 14:26
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By The Sunlight Foundation

Donald Trump standing at a podium pointing into the crowd. Donald Trump. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Over the weekend, the New York Times released a bombshell report revealing three pages of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return where he reported nearly a billion dollars in losses. The report claims that is enough in losses to free Trump from paying taxes for nearly two decades.

Trump is the first major party candidate in roughly forty years to break away with the presidential candidate tradition of disclosing tax returns. We’ve written several times about why this is a critical step in transparency for anyone running for this nation’s highest office. It creates a fuller picture of the candidate’s financial position than just filling out the personal financial disclosure form.

We gleaned a lot of information from The New York Times’ release of these three pages from 1995. And – a gentle reminder here – those are just three pages. Trump’s tax return, according to him, looks like this:

There are still more things we could learn from access to the full, most recent returns including:

  • Yearly income of the candidate
  • How much the candidate paid in taxes and the tax rate
  • What deductions and tax credits claimed
  • Real estate taxes and abatements
  • Investments
  • How much the candidate gave to charity (which could shed light on their values and priorities)
  • To whom the candidate owes money
  • Who are the candidates in business with and the financial positions of those companies (whether they have had gains or losses)
  • May indicate if money is being held offshore

Reports continue to surface about Trump’s business dealings abroad. Just this morning, the International Center for Investigative Journalism published a new report showing the Trump organization renting office space to an Iranian bank. This is coupled with reports about his Russian business ties and reports his business violated the embargo against Cuba.

Trump could use this as an opportunity to point out loopholes and suggest reforms. Instead, the campaign voiced outrage someone illegally released the returns. The documents are clearly of interest to the American people, and we strongly urge Trump release his most recent returns immediately in the interest of accountability.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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