Monday, October 03, 2016

The Real Point About The Trump Tax Records Dump

We talked about Trump's refusal to make his taxes public in class a couple of weeks ago. First of all, I told the boys that although Mr. Trump is the first Presidential candidate since Richard Nixon not to do so he has every right to keep his tax returns a matter between him and the IRS.  I told them what tax returns reveal and what they do not.  I explained the difference between tax evasion which is illegal and tax avoidance which is what I do every time I file a return with my paltry itemized deductions.  And I reiterated that Mr. Trump has a right not to have his tax information revealed. 

Well, somebody did it for him, by leaking the 1995 tax return filed jointly by ex-spouse Marla Maples and him to the New York Times.  Which was published last Saturday night.  It revealed that Trump took a $916,000,000 loss for that tax year.  Although while an extreme example of the practice, this is entirely legal and reflects the tax benefits available to real estate developers that you and I don't have.  

I have been asked my thoughts about all of this.  Here are my thoughts.

1) I don't care if these are so-called "paper losses" resulting from accounting prestidigitation or not.  You lose that much money you aren't nearly the shrewd businessman that you claim to be.  Which is only relevant because he has made his alleged business acumen a campaign issue.  And now we know-or can guess-why he didn't want these tax documents revealed.  It's not true.

2) Donald Trump, vile specimen of a human being that he is, has got rights just like you and me.  If he doesn't want his records made public he has that right.  The IRS should immediately initiate an investigation into how these records got released.  If it was an employee, there should be hell to pay.  Nobody has a right to reveal a taxpayer's information without his or her permission.

3) Unless it was-and you can put this in your "Hell Hath No Fury" file-Marla Maples.  She signed off on the return as well.  She can hand the damn things out in front of Macy's at rush hour with impunity.  I doubt it was her.  But karma, like water, seeks its own level.  And it is amusing to contemplate.

4) The New York Times has colorable criminal liability as well.  While a newspaper in general can publish illegal information that it obtained legally, there is a specific statute which forbids the publication of a taxpayer's information without permission.  This will be interesting.  If I'm Trump I raise holy Hell.  

5) But he won't do this.  Trump, naturally, has threatened to sue the Times.   He's got to know that discovery would be brutal.  In any event, he won't do it until after the election.  Because he would have to admit the tax records published by the Times were his.  He hasn't denied it.  But he hasn't admitted it either.  

6) And here's what else I think.  I told the boys that day that I get a retirement check once a month from Uncle.  My taxes come off the top.  Even at that I have to pay quarterly taxes.  Which, quite frankly, pisses me off.  

These particular classes are full of, if not Trump supporters, Hillary haters. I asked them if they thought it was fair if it turned out that I paid more in Federal income tax than Donald Trump.  To a man they said "No."

And that's the REAL issue and it's an issue a teenager can easily grasp.  The tax code is rigged.  And it's rigged in favor of guys that can take advantage of extravagant deductions not available to the average Joe.  

That's not fair.  And that's the real issue Mr. Trump's tax returns raise.

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