His returns examined at last, the president stands exposed as a tax avoider and serial debtor. It raises serious questions – but also, most likely, the passions of his fervent supporters

From the moment he rode down an escalator in the marble-clad, gold-trimmed Trump Tower to declare his candidacy for US president, Donald Trump was selling himself as a successful businessman who could run a successful economy.

On Sunday the mask was finally torn off. According to a blockbuster New York Times investigation into his taxes, the self-proclaimed billionaire, a personification of the hedonism and extravagance of the 1980s, has been losing more money than he makes.

These are the three key points of the Times report:

  • Trump is not very good at business
  • Trump is very good at avoiding taxes
  • Trump may have serious conflicts of interests with foreign powers

Will any of it have a major impact on his reelection chances? Up to a point.

Trump declared a staggering $1.4bn in losses from his core businesses for 2008 and 2009. He appears to have personally guaranteed loans totalling $421m, most now due within four years. The Times reported: “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.”