Donald Trump

Nobody Actually Knows Very Much About Trump's Business Dealings

A New York Times report alleges the president lost more than $1 billion over a decade, but the truth is more complicated.


President Donald Trump's businesses allegedly lost more than $1 billion between 1985 and 1994, according to a report from The New York Times, which obtained 10 years of the president's tax transcripts.

In total, Trump is said to have lost $1.17 billion over the course of that decade, hemorrhaging more than $250 million per year in 1990 and 1991. He did not pay any income taxes for 8 of those 10 years. The knee-jerk reaction is that he's a phony or a criminal—or both. The reality, though, is likely much more complex.

For starters, it's impossible to lose a billion dollars if you don't have a billion dollars, as Josh Barro points out over at New York Magazine. He writes:

Maybe Donald Trump had massive income in the years before 1985, allowing him to build up a billion-plus-dollar fortune and then later lose it. But those were the early years of his real-estate career, when he took on smaller projects than the ones that later nearly ruined him, like the Trump Shuttle and the once-planned Television City development on the Upper West Side. Trump has long claimed to be a billionaire, but it's unlikely those claims were true so far back in the past.

Trump claims the Times article is moot and that he wrote off his depreciating buildings in what's known as a tax shelter. "Almost all real estate developers" took similar approaches, he says, often choosing to "re-negotiate with banks, it was sport."

That alone wouldn't explain his outrageous losses. As the Times points out, he lost considerably more than any other taxpayer in the U.S. in both 1990 and 1991; if he exclusively set up tax shelters, then his transcripts should be in line with other high-profile real estate developers of the time. They're not.

Trump's approach, then, likely consisted of carrying over losses from previous years, which, according to Joseph Bishop-Henchman of the Tax Foundation, is a "pretty standard" and "justifiable" feature of the tax code. "If you lose a lot of money in one year, and then you're profitable in subsequent years you can carry over those losses," Bishop-Henchman tells Reason.

What those losses were, though, remains a mystery—and it'll likely stay that way.

"He's unlike a lot of other businesspeople in that he has these hundreds of subsidiary organizations, a lot of royalty income, and I think it would be hard for anyone to pull it all apart," says Bishop-Henchman. In that same vein, New York Magazine's Barro posits that Trump claimed credit for financial losses experienced by the intricate web of people that he associated with, like the banks that loaned him cash. That loophole was closed by Congress in 2002.

Taken at face value, however, the report certainly provides fodder for Trump's foes, many of whom seek to challenge the president's self-made entrepreneurial brand.

The Times report comes as the House of Representatives' Democratic majority pressures Trump to release the last six years of his tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Monday that he will not hand them over, citing objections the Justice Department raised in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D–Mass.).

"Out of respect for the deadlines previously set by the Committee, and consistent with our commitment to a prompt response, I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee's request," Mnuchin wrote.

Neal requested the documents by citing a tax code provision that gives his committee authority to retrieve such documents from the Treasury Department, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service. Mnuchin argued that the House "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose" in seeking Trump's tax returns, and the government is therefore not obligated to provide them.

Mnuchin's response to Congress echoes the White House's assertion that the request is nothing more than thinly veiled partisan hackery. William Consovoy, Trump's personal attorney, wrote that it's "a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and his speech." House Democrats, in turn, say they want to investigate Trump's business dealings for evidence of foreign influence.

Those suspicions seem rooted in wishful thinking, particularly since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has concluded and Trump is still in the White House. Perhaps all Trump has to hide is a business empire driven by someone who appears to be unversed in "the art of the deal." With the 2020 election around the corner, the latter might be worse.

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  1. This is just the democrats' thinly-veiled attempt at an endless fishing expedition to find or make up dirt to defeat Trump in 2020.

    1. There's nothing we could find to reach you fuckers. Shoot a mfer in broad daylight and it still wouldn't register.

      1. Ordinary Person
        May.9.2019 at 6:40 pm
        "There’s nothing we could find to reach you fuckers."

        Given you haven't found anything at all, you're obviously a fucking ignoramus to make that claim.
        Piss off.

      2. Congress has no legal basis to request Trump’s tax records. Period. But please OP, come at me in this one. Just so I can slap you down hard.

        1. Knew he wouldn’t.

  2. It is a pretty good bet that the IRS has audited and signed off, as legit, all those tax returns in the 80s and 90s. A bi-partisan Congress created all those loopholes, that are perfectly legitimate for taxpayers to use, so suck it.

    1. +100

      Suck it, Congress-critters.

    2. Yes I would imagine that Trump has had the IRS way up his rear end for a long time and yet there has been nothing to really bust him on. If the IRS can't find anything how can we expect halfwits like Eric Swallowswell to find anything.. I just wish Eric could find his way home to people who will take care of him.

      1. Thank you. I’ve been saying this for awhile now. Progtard Democrats aren’t going to find anything that the IRS’s best didn’t. It’s an absurd notion. They just want to use his for opposition research.

  3. Tax returns don’t reflect your level of wealth.

    1. +100

      There are plenty of rich old people who have $0 income every year.

  4. If Trump had anything to brag about he'd have released his financial info two years ago. It's pretty clear he's embarrassed or fearful.

    1. "If Trump had anything to brag about..."

      He's a billionaire and only one of 45 people to ever be President of the United States. What kind of accomplishments does it take to have something to brag about?

      1. Show me the money mfer.

        1. Show us yours.
          And your gold encrusted penthouse and hot wives .

          1. Gold encrusted. I guess that's what happens when you have a mushroom for a dick. Everything about Trump can probably be explained by his abusive father and his little dick.

            1. "I guess that’s what happens when you have a mushroom for a dick."

              I guess we'll have to take your word for it. Do you know who else could name distinguishing characteristics of a president's dick?

              1. 12"p: Your mom?

                And no I don't agree OP, just an easy setup.

            2. What a pathetic, infantile loser.
              You got nothing outside of your fantasies, Trump owes you absolutely nothing regarding his business and your spewing spittle all over your keyboard.
              What a hateful litttle fuck you are.

            3. " I guess that’s what happens when you have a mushroom for a dick."

              Way to heighten the discourse. We'll totally take you seriously now.

              1. We don’t care whether you take anything seriously. What matters is that you and the other Trump fans will be replaced by your betters, and soon.

                1. Schweig, schweinhund!

                2. If you consider the likes of Pelosi, Nadler, Swallowwell, Schiff-for-brains, et al as "our betters", then you're beyond help, on the being fucked-up scale.

            4. I guess that’s what happens when you have a mushroom for a dick

              A mushroom dick still outsizes anything between your legs.

        2. No one needs to show you or your faggot friends anything.

    2. So it may show he isn't that rich What does that matter? Regardless he isn't sharing any with me so what do I care?

  5. "Trump's businesses allegedly lost more than $1 billion between 1985 and 1994"

    1994 was 25 years ago. How is this "news"?

    1. Spoiler alert - he followed it up with a reality show.

      1. I know. It's like these fucking morons forget he's Donald Trump. He got Herschel Walker out of the NFL. He was in was in fucking Zoolander. He has a fucking game with his name on it. He fucks hot chicks.

        But now they need to examine his complex dealings which the IRS and FBI wouldn't have sacked him with already?? He's the most scrutinized of POTUS ever but this time there MUST something there.

        But there's not. It's like Hicklib's place on 4th of July: the BBQ is roadkill and the beer is MGD

        1. Trump surviving the coup attempt is evidence that Lefties have lost A LOT of political power over the last few years.

          Trump being the best President in over 80, in spite of Lefty attempts to destroy him reflects very badly on Democrats.

        2. I’m pretty sure Arty serves Schmidt Beer, if he’s splurging.

        3. And HildaBeast & the DNC, Cheryl Mills & Huma Abedin, Brennan, Clapper The Crapper, Page, Ohr & his wife, Loretta Lynch-Mob, Strzok, Comey Da Clown, McCabe, Steele, GPS Fusion, The FISA judges & others are still free & walking around the worst High Crimes & Conspiracy committed in our Republic!


      2. Hell, he wrote BOOKS about his comeback. It's not like he didn't loudly discuss his bankruptcies and his comeback.

  6. I want to know what these scam fuckers surrounding the president are buying and selling on the stock market. Y'all are suckers. Dumb as dirt.

    1. Post a picture of the large jet with your name on it.

      1. You're just offering more proof he has a little dick.

        1. WOW, aren’t you special.

        2. OP is projecting about his tiny chinee chubby again.

        3. Why so obsessed over Trump's genitals?

    2. What a hateful slimy fuck you are.

    3. Dude I would never do business with Trump on a construction project BUT your a moron. His tax returns don't mean shit.

  7. Anyone who did vote for him.

    We all knew.

    So it is not news at all.

    Donald Trump pulled of the deal of a lifetime. He purchased the USA with no money down. Like his other so called investments he could care less about your losses.

    1. No most of them don't know it. They believe the con. It's isn't about the conservative judges for these people. That's the game the people with brains play to justify their votes.

      1. Fuck off and leave the adults alone, scumbag.

        1. Is that how you put the kids to bed at night?

          1. That and a solid kick up the backside to hurry the rug-rats down the hall.

            1. Obviously the scumbags have the best of care.

              1. "Obviously the scumbags have the best of care."
                Exactly what you deserve.

                1. Replacing the slack-jawed, superstitious, right-wing bigots is going to be important and enjoyable for the educated liberal-libertarian mainstream

                  Until then . . . Open wider, clingers

                  1. You’re losing Arty, and ou better get used to it. Keep acting out and you will find yourself face down in a landfill with.all the other progtards when the time comes.

                    Best you just learn to obey.

                  2. Halt dein mut, sheißkopf!

    2. Glad Donald Trump is President.

      He saved us from Hillary and turned out to be the best president in over 80 years.

  8. Well, if it is in a New York Times article, we know it is wrong, don't we?
    "All the news that fits, we print"

  9. Nobody Actually Knows Very Much About Trump's Business Dealings

    Nor should they if it's pre-2017.

  10. Trump went in and out of bankruptcy and managed to come back pretty strong.

    The one thing I know about his business dealings that matters is that the Democrats would love to drag the fact that he's rich out into the public eye and hold it up for everyone to see--as if it's something of which he should be ashamed.

    I don't understand why libertarians should participate in that. He's rich. So what?

    1. Fake rich.

      Why that should matter is up to you.

      The chief negotiator for China is showing up tomorrow. They know exactly who they are dealing with. They know his actual net worth and how he conducts business.

      Smiles, handshakes and chocolate cake. Heh.

      1. Echospinner
        May.9.2019 at 8:26 pm
        "Fake rich."
        Care to tell us what that is supposed to mean, assuming you had any idea?

        1. You are us?

      2. I can fake that? Awesome. Tell me exactly how to do it. You appear to know everything about this

      3. So, a person who has never really done shit on their own --- like Hillary --- would be BETTER?

        How many Presidents have actually accomplished much of anything outside of politics? On the Democrat side...not fucking many. And basically none of the current crop of nominees has.

    2. You’re supposed to hate Trump because he’s rich, and hate Trump because he’s bankrupt.

  11. Unnamed sources say an editor at The New York Times masturbated to copies of Trump's tax returns.

    1. As long as it is unnamed sources, plural. That is called confirmation.

  12. "As the Times points out, he lost considerably more than any other taxpayer in the U.S. in both 1990 and 1991"

    If I correctly followed the story, that isn't quite correct. The basis seems to be a database of anonymized tax return information which contains a random sample of one third of all returns. If that is correct, than all they know is he lost more money than anyone in the sample, which suggests that he lost more than almost anyone else but not necessarily more than anyone else.

    1. Donald Trump from what I see used three ways to avoid taxes and live like a billionaire.

      He used pass through income from multiple partnerships.

      He used bank loans to fund his lifestyle then declared those as losses.

      He took heavy depreciations on his real estate investments.

      None of those are illegal exactly which is why they are in audit and will be for his life.

      1. "None of those are illegal exactly which is why they are in audit and will be for his life."

        Oh, poor, poor loser. What a shame you lost, loser. You could please fuck off and make this place better, but let me give you a hint, imbecile:
        Those are "exactly" not illegal, meaning they are legal, no scare quotes required. Envious ignoramuses like you seem to hope that those brighter than you suffer the same misfortunes that you do.
        We don't. You are stupid and deserve all the grief that comes to you.

        1. Losing the culture war and being relegated to a lifetime of complying with others’ preferences has made you cranky. And irrelevant.

          1. As long as you are the last one we kill I'm happy

            1. ^^^This x Infinity

      2. “None of those are illegal exactly”

        Translation: they’re totally legal. It’s like being pregnant. A binary proposition.

        1. Neither is true Shitlord

          Pregnancy can be non viable as in a molar or ectopic pregnancy for example.

          The law is far more ambiguous than most people realize. Trump has lived well, if that is your idea of a good life, skirting the margins of what is legal. It may be that he has done nothing to be convicted of.

          1. You’re skirting the issue. Again, an action is legal, or illegal. There is no ‘kind of’.

            You just don’t like him. Admit it and move on.

    1. Pretty sure that NYT is economically viable as a result of RE holdings (Kinda like that horrible Trump).
      The 'paper' may yet make some money, but it's likely b/c they sell the feed to locals like the SF Chron which now employs, oh, three or four 'reporters' who are very cozy to the local politicos, no longer has an office in NY, DC or for that matter, anywhere outside of SF. It is an ego-sheet for several 'columnists', ranging from trivial to predictable. Phil Matier is the sole exception.
      The local writers seem to be assigned to whiny articles regarding the bums and how the techs are ruining the city as a result of making money.
      National coverage is either AP or NYT feed.

  13. OT:
    For those, like Echospinner, who proposes 'You Will Respect My Authoritah!', and OP, who has a fatal case of TDS, this will be seen as the horror that is Trump.
    for the rest of us, who would never speak with a cop or an investigator without legal assistance, it's simply common sense:

    "Like father like son: Donald Trump Jr. declined to be voluntarily interviewed by Mueller"

    What possible good could come of speaking with an adversarial agent?

    1. But....but......he’s a TRUMP!!!!!! He has to!!!!!!!! Or stuff!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Trump doubles down on tariffs imposing 25% on a broad variety of imports from China.

    The trade deficit with China, which he sees as a problem, has increased under the Trump administration.

    The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has issued a statement promising “necessary countermeasures”.

    This is not going well. American farmers are already hit by low commodity prices. The TPP which the Trump admin pulled out of has been revamped and drops tariffs on many goods has been signed by a number of major trading partners including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, and Peru.

    As much of the world goes to freer trade Trump has gone in the opposite direction. Watch the markets in the morning.

    Art of the deal. It is always fun to play with other people’s money.

    1. Here's why global stocks aren't sinking despite the US tariff

      Some people would sure love to go back to the managed trade that we had Pre-Trump.

      It is always fun to play with other people's money.

  15. If Trump had anything to brag about he’d have released his financial
    info two years ago. It’s pretty clear he’s embarrassed or fearful.

    1. Are you kidding? Trump is having a field day with this. Democrats are tying themselves into knots trying to invade his privacy, raising the question in voters' minds: "if they can do this to the president, what would they do to me?" It's a win-win for him: if they fail, they look weak, and if they succeed, they look authoritarian and will get... nothing for their troubles.

      1. +100

  16. Trump was duly elected with his supporters voting him in without ever seeing his tax returns or caring who he fucks.

    Hillary Clinton lost and Trump will be re-elected because he is the best President in over 80 years.

    Suck it Lefties.

    1. Sounds like love.

      “She’s so in love with me, she doesn’t know anything. That’s why she’s in love with me.”

      Groucho Marx

  17. "Mnuchin's response to Congress echoes the White House's assertion that the request is nothing more than thinly veiled partisan hackery."

    I disagree. There's nothing "thinly veiled" about it.

  18. Nobody Actually Knows Very Much About Trump's Business Dealings

    And nobody effing cares. After all, Trump got elected without it.

  19. "The knee-jerk reaction is that he's a phony or a criminal—or both. The reality, though, is likely much more complex."

    Nope, it isn't more complex. We don't know how many millions Trump got from his father. It was least $400 million, despite Trump's bald faced lie that all he ever got from his sugar daddy was a measly $1 million loan which he said he repaid but probably didn't. We have no idea of how much Trump made laundering money for gangsters and kleptocrats. No wonder Trump is willing to tear America apart to hide his tax returns. He has a great deal to hide. He is a phony, a criminal, a traitor and an illegitimate president. Of course he could prove most of all of that wrong by simply showing his tax returns and other financial documents. After all, if he has nothing to hide, then why fight so desperately hard to hide evidence of his innocence from both congress and the public? What is he trying to hide, evidence of his staggering business brilliance and unprecedented success? Or, is he trying to hide evidence of crimes and failures? Trump did promise to release his tax returns, but that was just another of the thousands of lies and deceptions that have flown out his foul mouth from the day he announced his run in 2015 to the present.

    The only people who don't want to see Trump's dealings are his supporters who know he has a lot to hide. Seeing Trump's dirty laundry is critically important to anyone who cares about America and democracy.

    1. Poor Lefties and their hatred that Hillary lost because she sucked.


    2. And what did 0blama have to hide with making sure - spending mucho dinero - the no one saw all his school records or travel records or his birth certificate?

  20. The New York Times has had copies of Trump's IRS transcripts for around a week, and as yet have only released a summary rather than the full transcripts. What are they trying to cover up?

    1. They are covering their own asses. Check, recheck, run it through legal, run it through editors, meetings, decision to publish or not.

      Just my guess.

    2. They probably don’t understand them. They’re just journalists. It’s not like any of them have real educations.

  21. The guy who owns the NY Times just lost over $1 million on the sale of the Boston Globe. I hope the Times does a front page analysis of HIS taxes next year. People in glass houses .....

  22. The Trump isn't a billionaire people are so retarded.

    Forbes did a big article a few years ago breaking down his holdings... Just from a couple flagship buildings he owns he is a billionaire. He owns Trump Tower free and clear, no loans. His ownership stake is known in many of his other holdings, and he disclosed loan amounts on ones that have loans... Just a few put him into the billionaire range. IIRC Forbes totaled his net worth at somewhere between 4 and 6 billion, because they used a range for the values on his holdings as there is no "set" price for major commercial buildings like there may be for a simple house in a given neighborhood.

    And do you people not know how real estate works? It is EASY for somebody with a NET worth of under 1 billion to lose 1 billion. You can often buy real estate for only 20-25% down on large commercial projects... So 1 billion in NET worth might mean somebody owns 4 billion in GROSS assets. If those assets go down by 1.5 billion, they now have a negative net worth, yet retain 2.5 billion in gross assets if they don't get repoed.

    Trump said in Art Of The Deal he was 500 million in the hole... So if he started out somewhere north of 1 billion, lost a billion or more, this is all perfectly reasonable. He was a gamblin' man, and this kinda shit happens. He did manage to pull it out and build back up to being worth some billions on net though.

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