WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended himself following a media report that said his businesses had lost a total of more than $1 billion (769 million pounds) from 1985 to 1994, saying he had leeway with his taxes as a real estate developer.
The report, published in the New York Times on Tuesday, detailed how his core businesses of casinos, hotels and apartment buildings had lost $1.17 billion over a decade, allowing him to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.
During the period described, Trump said he was allowed massive tax write-offs for depreciation and many “non monetary” losses, adding the report contained “very old information.”
“You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes … almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport,” Trump said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.
Though U.S. presidential candidates have traditionally released their tax returns during the campaign, Trump has refused to do so. He also continues to own his businesses, though he has said his sons run the day-to-day operations.
Trump has repeatedly said he could not release his tax documents because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
His former lawyer Michael Cohen, however, told a House panel in February that rather than an audit being underway, Trump feared releasing the tax information could lead to an audit and penalties.
Democrats in U.S. House of Representatives have requested Trump’s tax returns as part of investigations into the president and any possible conflicts of interest, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week refused a request for them, setting the stage for a likely legal fight.
Officials in New York state are also taking steps to seek the president’s tax returns, the New York Times has reported.
Trump has previously said any probe of his personal or business finances were off limits, telling the Times in a July 2017 interview that any such scrutiny would be crossing a “red line.”
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum)