NEW YORK — President Donald Trump — who has spent decades crafting an image of himself as a master dealmaker — lost more than $1 billion on sketchy business ventures in the 1980s and ’90s, making him one of the biggest financial losers in the country, according to a bombshell report Tuesday.

Copies of Trump’s personal 1040 tax transcripts from 1985 to 1994, which were obtained by The New York Times, reveal the president totaled $1.17 billion in losses for the time period, the newspaper said.

The astronomical hit was so severe that Trump avoided paying any income tax for eight of the 10 years, according to the Times. The data, printouts of Trump’s official IRS transcripts with figures from his federal 1040 forms, was provided to the Times by someone who had “legal” access to it.

When compared with Internal Revenue Service information on other high-income earners, Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,” the Times reported.

The startling tax details come as the House Ways and Means Committee is pressing the IRS to provide Trump’s personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday, however, refused to hand them over, saying the Democrat-controlled panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Mnuchin’s move, though not unexpected, will likely set off legal fireworks; Democrats could either subpoena the IRS for the returns, or file a lawsuit.

Trump is the first president since Watergate to decline to make his tax returns public.

According to the Times, Trump was swimming in red ink while he was pedaling his 1987 best seller, “The Art of the Deal.” For example, in 1985, his core businesses reported a loss of $46.1 million, and carried over a $5.6 million loss for earlier years.

But that wasn’t the only bad news.

From 1986-89, the Times reported, Trump declared $67.3 million in gains from stocks and other assets bought and sold within a year. But the figures show ultimately Trump lost most, if not all, of those gains after investors stopped taking his corporate raider boasts seriously, with the Times noting Trump would talk about a takeover but then quietly sell on the resulting bump in the stock price.

“He has an appetite like a Rocky Mountain vulture,” his stockbroker, Alan C. Greenberg, told The Wall Street Journal in 1987. “He’d like to own the world.”

The Times also reported that amid all the figures on 10 years of Trump’s tax transcripts, one stood out: $52.9 million in interest income that he reported in 1989. In the three previous years, Trump had reported $460,566, then $5.5 million, then $11.8 million in interest. The source of the starkly higher interest income is unknown, the Times reported.

But the interest income fell about as quickly as it spiked; by 1992, he was reporting only $3.6 million.

The White House declined to comment on the Times report.

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

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