(NBC News/Phil Helsel) — The New York Times on Saturday published documents it said were Donald Trump's 1995 income tax returns, and the documents appear to show the businessman and GOP nominee reported a nearly $1 billion loss.

Trump declared a nearly $916 million loss on his 1995 New York state income tax returns according to the documents, the Times reported in an article posted online Saturday night.

Three tax experts hired by the Times said the size of the deduction and tax rules governing wealthy filers could have allowed Trump to legally pay no federal income taxes for 18 years. There is nothing in the report that shows he actually took advantage of the rules to avoid paying taxes.

Trump has based his campaign on his experience as a successful businessman, vowing to rewrite trade agreements and make deals with other countries that would ensure jobs return to the U.S.

Trump has declined to release his tax returns, an issue which was raised by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton at the Sept. 26 presidential debate.

Clinton at the debate suggested the returns might show Trump hasn't paid any federal taxes, which Trump did not address.

When Clinton said a couple years of returns when Trump was trying to get a casino license showed he didn't pay any federal income taxes, Trump interjected: "That makes me smart."

The Clinton campaign pounced on the Times report. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted: "Trump's returns show just how lousy a businessman he is AND how long he may have avoided paying any taxes."

The Times published Trump's 1995 IT-201 New York state tax records online. The newspaper said the three pages were emailed to reporter Susanne Craig.

The Trump campaign in a statement to NBC News after the report was published said the tax document was "illegally obtained."

"The only news here is that the more than 20 year-old alleged tax document was illegally obtained, a further demonstration that the New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton Campaign, the Democratic Party and their global special interests," the campaign said in a statement.

"Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required," the statement continued. "That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions."

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