Donald Trump's longtime accountant disputes Trump's 'brilliant' grasp of the tax code

Donald Trump accountant speaks out on tax returns
(Image credit: Inside Edition/YouTube)

Donald Trump's most recent response to the publication in The New York Times of 1995 personal state tax returns showing him reporting a $916 million loss — meaning he could have avoided paying federal income tax for 18 years — is that he "brilliantly" used the tax system to his advantage. "I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them,” Trump said Monday in Pueblo, Colorado. "I understand it. I get it." His former accountant, Jack Mitnick, says that's not true, or wasn't when he prepared Trump's taxes from the 1960s to 1996.

Mitnick has been making the rounds, and he told both The New York Times and NBC News that Fred Trump, Trump's dad, was interested in the details of tax policy but Donald Trump was not, and the only questions asked when Donald and his first wife, Ivana, came in to sign their returns were asked by Ivana. When Inside Edition asked Mitnick if he thought Trump was "brilliant" in his use of the tax system in 1996, Mitnick laughed: "No, I did all the tax preparation. He never saw the product until it was presented to him for signature." He wouldn't speculate who would have leaked the returns, saying only that all the copies were turned over to Trump, and he wouldn't say who he is voting for in November, saying only, "That's confidential." Peter Weber

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.