Donald Trump said Monday that he "brilliantly" used tax laws to benefit himself and his companies in response to criticism about his possible use of loopholes to pay minimal income tax.
Trump contended he understands tax laws better than anyone else based on his experience, which gives him a unique ability to fix tax laws. Trump added during his rally in Colorado that he hates the way the U.S. government spends tax dollars.
"As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my employees. Honestly, I have brilliantly — I have brilliantly used those laws," he said.
Trump faces fresh criticism for his business and tax history after The New York Times reported over the weekend that his 1995 tax return showed a $916 million loss after a string of business difficulties. The return, verified by the man who prepared it, showed Trump could have been legally shielded from income tax for up to 18 years after that.
Trump, who has used his business acumen as a selling point during his campaign, contended that he looked out for himself and investors by paying the minimum amount of taxes required by law. He also claimed that his ability to fight back from the loss showed his resilience. Trump has so far refused to release his tax returns in contradiction to recent presidential precedent.
His rival for president Hillary Clinton slammed Trump for his 1995 tax return on Monday, asking, "What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?"
Other critics have also questioned Trump's claims that he will fix the tax code because he knows its flaws. New York Times columnist Jim Stewart told CNBC that Trump's tax plan — which calls for across-the-board income tax cuts and the closure of loopholes for some investment-related activities — would not close the loopholes that Trump himself used.