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Trump could have avoided US federal taxes for 18 years, NYT reports

'Squandered tax' comments unhelpful to Trump: Harwood

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could have avoided paying federal income tax for up to 18 years, The New York Times has reported, based on tax records it obtained.

According to the report, Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax return - a deduction that would have legally allowed him to avoid paying federal tax for up to 18 years.

Tax experts told The New York Times that U.S. tax law would have permitted the real estate and casinos magnate to use the loss to cancel out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over that period.

The newspaper reported that Trump's campaign released a statement that said the "highly skilled businessman" had a responsibility to his businesses, his family and his employers to pay no more tax than legally required. 

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"That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes,sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions," the statement said.

Separately, a lawyer for Trump threatened legal action against the newspaper for publishing the GOP nominee's tax records without authorization from Trump.

To read the full NYT report, click here.

When contacted by CNBC, the Trump campaign issued the same statement, which also said,"The only news here is that the more than 20 year-old alleged tax document was illegally obtained, a further demonstration that the New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton Campaign, the Democratic Party and their global special interests."

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The statement did not confirm nor deny that Trump had declared a $916 million loss in 1995. 

According to, six Trump businesses have declared bankruptcy, including the Trump Taj Mahal casino in 1991,  and the Trump Castle casino, the Trump Plaza and Casino, and the Plaza Hotel, all in 1992. 

Trump, who claims to be a billionaire, has so far refused to publish his tax returns - the first White House hopeful in more than 40 years to refuse to do so - on the grounds that he is currently being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Experts have said that such an audit did not prevent Trump releasing his tax records if he wished.

Presidential nominee Donald Trump waves after the debate at Hofstra University on September 26.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton suggested at the first presidential debate on Monday that Trump refused to make public his returns because voters would then know "he's paid nothing in federal taxes." 

"That makes me smart," Trump responded at the time to the suggestion he had not paid federal taxes, then added, "It would be squandered, too, believe me." He later reportedly said that the comments were not intended to indicate that he had not paid federal taxes.

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