Donald Trump has a new defence for the report that he could have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years.
At a campaign rally in Arizona on Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidate blamed his opponent Hillary Clinton for not enacting stricter tax laws when she was a senator from New York.
“After years of failure, she complains about how I’ve used tax laws of this country to my benefit,” Trump said. “Then I ask a simple question: Why didn’t she ever try to change those laws so I couldn’t use them? You know why? She could have changed the laws when she was in the United States Senate, but she didn’t.”
The New York Times published pages from Trump’s 1995 income tax returns on Saturday, which showed a $916 million loss that experts said he could have used to avoid paying income taxes for almost two decades. The businessman has refused to release his tax returns — as every major party candidate has done for decades — citing an IRS audit that needs to wrap up before he does so.
Clinton pounced on this fact during the first presidential debate more than a week ago, wondering aloud if Trump hasn’t released his tax returns because “maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”
Trump responded by saying, “That makes me smart,” in the moment, but his campaign later brushed it aside as an offhand remark. His supporters, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, insisted Trump’s tax acumen made him a “genius.”
“Yesterday his campaign was bragging it makes him a ‘genius,'” Clinton said at a campaign event on Monday. “Here’s my question: What kind of a genius loses $1 billion in a single year?”
And now Trump’s new line of defence is shooting the ball back into Clinton’s court.
“The reason that she did not do that is her donors and contributors have used those same tax laws as I did — the same way,” Trump said in Arizona on Tuesday, insinuating that billionaire Clinton supporters Warren Buffett and George Soros have also taken advantage of tax loopholes and written off huge losses the same way he did.
“Just take a look at her donors. I know how the tax code works better than anyone, and I’m going to fix it so it’s fair and just, and works for you,” he added as the crowd erupted in cheers.
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