The most shocking part of Trump’s tax records isn’t the $916 million loss everyone’s talking about

But there’s something I consider even more shocking — although it involves a much smaller number.

By my read of the Trump tax return published by the New York Times, he would have been tax-free because of a $15,818,562 loss reported on Line 11 of the return under “Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, etc.” It looks to me that this loss reflects the outrageous, special tax break that real estate developers that people like Trump can get, but that the rest of us can’t.

To give you the brief version, people who qualify as real estate developers or managers can use depreciation deductions to offset non-real estate income. But people who don’t qualify for this special treatment can’t do that. (For full details, ask a tax expert about Section 469 of the tax code.)