WASHINGTON (AP) — A claim from the presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:
TRUMP, responding to Hillary Clinton’s statement that he didn’t pay any federal income tax in the early 1990s, as recorded in documents from New Jersey gaming regulators: “That makes me smart.” Asked by reporters after the debate if he had admitted to not paying federal income taxes, Trump said, “I didn’t say that at all.”
THE FACTS: Trump did say during the debate not paying taxes made him smart. And documents show it’s true — he didn’t pay taxes for at least two years in the early 1990s. But his failure to pay taxes wasn’t the result of savvy tax planning. Instead, Trump avoided taxes in a simpler way: by losing money. According to documents from New Jersey gaming regulators, Trump posted losses from his creditors writing down his debts during those years that were large enough to cancel out any gains he would have had to report
Tax avoidance may have played a larger role in Trump not paying taxes during better years in the late 1970s and in 1984. As for more recent years, the size of Trump’s tax payment is unclear because he has refused to release his returns, citing an IRS audit. The IRS and tax experts have said the audit doesn’t prevent Trump from making his returns public.