How To Read Donald Trump's Leaked Tax Return

by Cate Carrejo

After almost a year of publicly stalling the release of his tax returns, The New York Times shockingly published the business magnate's filing from 1995 on Saturday. The 21-year-old tax return, which quickly became the news story of the weekend, casts a troubling light onto the Republican presidential candidate's volatile campaign, as it critically undermines Trump's positioning as a successful businessman. If you want to take a look at the document itself, you can read Trump's tax return on The New York Times' website.

Trump's return reveals some pretty troubling facts as far as his campaign message is concerned. Since the beginning, Trump has centered his qualifications to be president around the fact that he ran successful businesses for many years, even defending that assertion in tweets posted Sunday morning. However, his 1995 return seems to dispute that — the document reveals that Trump lost nearly $1 billion that year from "other income," which isn't elaborated on in the three-page document released by The Times.

Of course, it's understandable that businesses go through ups and downs, but without additional returns to give context to this one, it's difficult to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. Given what they contain, releasing the rest of his returns might be the best way for Trump to clear up this mess — if he can demonstrate that the loss in 1995 was not a regularly occurring event or that there was a crucial reason for it, he could potentially restore faith in his business acumen and put his campaign message back on track.

The return also reveals some interesting facts about his family life. According to the third page of the document, it appears that Trump didn't claim his three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, as dependents (lines 9 and 10), nor did he pay any alimony to ex-wife Ivana Trump (line 17). A 1991 news report detailing the Trump's divorce settlement states that he agreed to pay $300,000 in child support and $350,000 in alimony per year, though it's unclear how the settlement might have changed when Ivana married Riccardo Mazzucchelli in 1995. Trump did claim one dependent, presumably his daughter Tiffany with then-wife Marla Maples.

As government documents tend to be, Trump's tax return practically requires a decoder ring to make sense of, so if you're really interested in reading it, here's a guide to reading tax returns that may help. There's certainly some interesting tidbits to be gleaned from the return, but unfortunately, it's really just one piece of a much larger puzzle. The public needs a lot more of Trump's financial information in order to really have a basis from which to interpret his comprehensive financial history. For now, there are just these three pages, from which many will try to make new predictions about his candidacy and potential presidency.