Donald Trump on Monday argued that his efforts to rebuild his company during a real estate downturn, including the use of tax breaks that allowed him to write off nearly $1 billion in losses, showed that he had the fortitude to rebuild the nation.
The GOP presidential nominee called a media report about his taxes two decades ago
“A little ridiculous,” but defended his use of tax loopholes that he said were designed to benefit special interests. He pledged to fix the tax code if elected president.
“I’m a big beneficiary,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo.
“But you’re more important than my being a beneficiary, so we’re going to straighten it out and make it fair for everybody.”
Trump has long resisted releasing his tax returns, leading Democrats to assert he was hiding unflattering information about his wealth, his charitable giving or his foreign business ties.
On Saturday, the New York Times published a report that in his 1995 tax return, Trump declared a $916-million loss, a move that could have allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for nearly two decades afterward.
The report was a bombshell, coming at the end of a bad week for Trump that included a shaky debate performance and a feud with a former beauty contest winner.
But Trump sought to paint the news about his taxes into a parable for how he would govern.
Trump said the real estate downturn in the 1990s was comparable to the Great Depression, and pointed to his use of the tax code as among the reasons his company survived.
“I was able to use the tax laws of our country and my skills as a business person to dig out of this real estate depression when few others were able to do it,” he said.
“In those most difficult times, when so many had their backs to the wall, I reached within myself and delivered for my company, my employees,my families and the communities where my properties existed. I did a great job.”
He added that many believed he would fail, just as they lacked faith in the people in the audience.
“I never had any doubts and I never, ever gave up, like the people in this room. We never do,” Trump said.
“… That’s what I am, and what you are. We’re fighters. And I’m now going to fight for you. We’re bringing our country back.”