Unlike past presidential nominees, Donald Trump has declined to release his complete tax returns, which has fostered fervid speculation about what they might contain — especially since the New York Times published a few pages from Trump’s 1995 tax documents last month.
Those documents suggested that the Republican nominee could have avoided paying taxes on as much as $916 million in income. The question was how he could do so legally. Experts had put forward a range of intricate theories, and the new documents disclosed by the Times on Monday point to one explanation for how Trump sheltered the bulk of that money.
It appears Trump gave his creditors shares of his failing businesses to avoid taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars they granted him in debt relief, a practice that has since been explicitly outlawed, the Times explained.
In short, “He made it up,” said legal scholar Edward Kleinbard of the University of Southern California.