The revelation on Saturday that Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, could have avoided nearly a billion dollars in income taxes over two decades drew criticism and commentary from around the country. Democrats seized on the news to discredit Mr. Trump’s supposed business acumen — the tax opportunity stemmed from a $916 million business loss in 1995 — and criticized his commitment to working-class taxpayers. But Mr. Trump’s campaign and his allies were quick to defend his tax avoidance: Only a genius businessman, they said, could have worked the tax code to such advantage.
Yet as Mr. Trump’s voluminous social media record shows, Mr. Trump has taken to Twitter many times in the past several years to denounce tax avoiders, complain about misuse of his own tax dollars and warn of the significant pain that paying taxes had caused him or others.
In 2011, Mr. Trump criticized President Obama for a speech in Kansas about income inequality, calling it “class warfare.” The worst part, Mr. Trump said, was that Mr. Obama’s speech had been paid for with “our tax dollars.”
‘Half of Americans Don’t Pay Income Tax’
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump adopted a popular conservative argument in mocking Americans who don’t pay any income tax, suggesting they had mooched off their country while it sank further and further into debt. (Side note: Most Americans too poor to pay federal income tax still lose substantial portions of their income to sales or federal payroll taxes.)
‘Not as I do’
In April 2012, after Mr. Obama released his tax returns, Mr. Trump attacked the president for calling for tax hikes yet paying what Mr. Trump suggested was a paltry tax rate of 20.5 percent. “Do as I say not as I do,” he taunted. (In retrospect, Mr. Trump may have been referring to himself.)
‘I Guess 3.8 billion Isn’t Enough’
In May 2012, Mr. Trump mocked Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin for renouncing his citizenship to avoid United States taxes. “I guess 3.8 billion isn’t enough,” Mr. Trump wrote. One billion, on the other hand …
‘You Get What You Vote For’
In early 2013, Mr. Trump took a different tack, complaining that “everyone” was feeling the pain of new taxes included in a budget deal between Mr. Obama and Congress. The increases fell most sharply on the very wealthiest Americans, people like Mr. Trump. Left unclear by Mr. Trump’s tweet: whether “everyone” included himself.
Retweet for the Wealthy
Later that year, Mr. Trump seemed to dismiss the idea that the tax code gave loopholes to wealthy people to allow them to avoid paying more taxes, retweeting a follower who observed that a handful of the wealthiest Americans paid most of the taxes.
‘Big Tax Shelter’
In 2015, Mr. Trump lashed out at The Washington Post, owned by the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Mr. Trump suggested that Mr. Bezos had taken advantage of the public by using losses at The Post to offset taxes on Amazon.
‘Higher Taxes ASAP’
In the same year, Mr. Trump criticized tax loopholes available to hedge funds and private equity firms, attacking them for “paying practically nothing.” (Mr. Trump’s tax plan proposes closing the so-called carried interest loophole, which benefits investors in private equity and real estate.)
In February, Mr. Trump posed for a picture next to a giant stack of papers, apparently a copy of his tax returns. His conclusion: “Isn’t this ridiculous?” Indeed.