Since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump began their campaigns for the White House a little over a year ago, one thing above all has been missing; Mr. Trump has yet to release his tax returns. The absence of these forms has induced heated discussion during debates as well as a firestorm of questions from the media and voters alike. All of this drama has occurred solely because, in refusing to comply, Mr. Trump breaks with decades of tradition and jeopardizes his chances of success.
Yet, against all odds, Mr. Trump has managed to avoid the controversy surrounding his lack of financial transparency. He has become the Republican party’s nominee for President, ignoring the issue of his taxes along the way.
However, on Oct. 1, 2016, The New York Times released a copy of Mr. Trump’s tax returns from 1995, and forced him to stop running from the matter at hand.
The forms uncovered by the Times showed many things: Mr. Trump paid no income tax in 1995, the figure which represents his annual income is disputable, and most astonishingly, Mr. Trump netted a loss of nearly 916 million dollars in 1995 alone.
After the release, hundreds of tax experts weighed in on Trump’s staggering losses, and one of the more prominent voices that rose from the crowd was that of Jim Repetti, a law professor at Boston College.
A recording of Repetti’s remarks on the Republican candidate’s finances can be found on Boston College’s Soundcloud, but in short, he is highly critical of Trump’s 916 million dollar loss. He dismisses the claims of many of Trump’s supporters and staff—that Mr. Trump’s losses are “genius” because they allow him to avoid up to two decades worth of income tax.
Rather, Professor Repetti argues that Trump’s squander of close to one billion dollars is indicative of not just mismanagement, but a gross decline in the value of the property he purchased. As Prof. Repetti explicitly says, “That loss had to have been [largely] attributable to the disposal of real estate.”
Professor Repetti, an expert in tax law, analyzed Trump’s tax returns more closely, asserting that “the tax loss of a billion dollars is the minimum amount that he lost from making an investment in the real estate that comprised the casinos.” Repetti makes the case that 916 million dollars could be the bare minimum of Trump’s losses, an argument that undermines Trump’s legitimacy as a businessman.
Repetti says the process of selling may have additional effects on the skewing of Trump’s numbers, explaining that “if he had debt discharged by the banks, [what] might have happened is his net operating loss might have been reduced by the amount of income he avoided recognizing.”
In essence, Professor Repetti is highly critical of the 916 million dollar loss Trump supposedly incurred in 1995, and would argue that this figure is a lowball estimate of how much the mogul really lost.
Professor Repetti concluded his segment with a refutation of the claim that Trump is a genius with tax codes, stating, “I don’t see how you can be a genius if you lose at least a billion dollars in real money, and this was real money. This was not a tax loss.”
Repetti’s criticism is one of many intelligent opinions on the highly controversial issue of Donald Trump’s tax returns. With limited information, Repetti’s analysis allows the voting public to gain greater insight into the lack of transparency that surrounds Donald Trump’s finances.