Trump 'a genius' for avoiding tax for years after $900m loss
Donald Trump is a "genius" for avoiding federal income taxes for years after losing more than $900m (€800m), according to his high-profile supporter Rudi Giuliani.
New Jersey's governor Chris Christie said that the 'New York Times' exposé on the Republican candidate's tax affairs was "a very, very good story for Donald Trump".
Rudy Giuliani called him an "absolute genius" for the scheme, in which he legally used tax loopholes to reduce his liability.
Trump himself weighed in, saying he was singularly qualified to fix a system that he may have exploited.
"I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them," Trump tweeted on yesterday, just five weeks ahead of the election.
Democrats said Trump's nearly $916m loss in one year poked holes in his claim to be a champion for working, tax-paying Americans.
"He doesn't care about those small businesses he didn't pay. He doesn't care about the people who lost millions of dollars in all of his bankruptcies," said Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.
"Those losses represent real pain to many people who never got paid."
Even as the report was published, the candidate and his campaign were engrossed in an effort to change the subject from his feud with 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado and his middle-of-the-night tweet storm on the subject.
On Saturday night in Manheim, Pennsylvania, Trump questioned Hillary Clinton's loyalty to her husband and imitated her near-faint on September 11 after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
The report by the 'New York Times' sheds light on some of the billionaire's tax returns after Trump's campaign had refused to release any such documents, breaking with 40 years of presidential campaign tradition.
Clinton has publicly released nearly 40 years' worth and Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has released 10 years of his returns.
Trump has said his lawyers are advising him to keep his tax returns private until a government audit is completed. But IRS commissioner John Koskinen told a government committee on September 21 that people under IRS audit are free to release their returns or IRS letters informing a person that they are being audited.
The 'New York Times' said it anonymously received the first pages of Trump's 1995 state income tax filings in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The filings show a net loss of $915,729,293 in federal taxable income for the year.
That Trump was losing money during the early to mid-1990s - a period marked by bankruptcies and poor business decisions - was already well established.
But the records show losses of such a magnitude that they potentially allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for years, possibly until the end of the last decade.
"Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required," his campaign said, adding that he had paid "hundreds of millions" in other taxes.
Trump's allies defended him during appearances on the US Sunday news shows.
Giuliani, a former New York mayor, said Trump "had some failures and then he built an empire" and called the businessman "a genius at how to take advantage of legal remedies that can help your company survive and grow."
"Don't you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman and the only thing she's ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails," Giuliani told ABC's 'This Week'."
In a separate interview on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Giuliani noted that "poor" people take advantage of similar "loopholes," referring to the millions of Americans who aren't required to pay federal income taxes each year because their incomes are too low.
Clinton's primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, who made wealth inequality a top campaign issue, said that assuming Trump's tax strategy was legal, "what it tells you is you have a corrupt tax system which says to ordinary people, you're supposed to pay your taxes. But if you're a billionaire, there are all kinds of loopholes that you can utilize that enable you . . . not to pay anything in taxes."
Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, used the story to needle Trump about not releasing his tax returns and contending during his first debate with Clinton that not paying federal income taxes would show he was "smart."
Mook said: "Now that the gig is up, why doesn't he go ahead and release his returns to show us all how 'smart' he really is?"
The newspaper said three pages of documents were mailed last month to a reporter who had written about Trump's finances in the past. The postmark revealed the package had been mailed from New York City.
The return address claimed that the envelope had been sent from Trump Tower.
Former Trump accountant Jack Mitnick, whose name appears as Trump's tax preparer of the filings, confirmed their authenticity.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has said the spate of US gun violence shows "protecting all of God's children is America's calling".
The Democratic presidential nominee spoke at church services in Charlotte, North Carolina, which has been grappling with last month's shooting of a black man by a police officer.
Ms Clinton said the country should try to imagine gun violence "through our children's eyes". She was joined at the pulpit by nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant.
The young African-American girl recently gave a tearful address to the city council on race relations, saying she could not "stand how we're treated".