Lots of pages have been filled with rumors about President Trump’s income tax filings. The Democrats had hoped that they would reveal criminal behavior or at least prove that Russia had illegitimate influence over him:
Trump says his tax returns reveal nothing that is not already disclosed on his official candidate financial disclosure, called Form 278e. As ethics counsels to the past two presidents, we dealt with both their tax filings and their Form 278’s and so we know that Trump is wrong. His tax filings have an enormous amount of additional information which, in this case, could be critically important to determining whether his business overseas might affect his decision-making as president. That is because Trump’s 12,000-page tax return may tell us a great deal about his Russian and other foreign business ties that is not on his 104-page campaign financial disclosure. It’s now more vital than ever that we get that information in light of Trump’s embrace of Russian hacking, leaking and interference in our election.
Now the New York Times has obtained Trump’s tax filings. It has made a huge splash out of them.
Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.
However, down in paragraph 78(!) it reports:
Mr. Trump was periodically required to pay a parallel income tax called the alternative minimum tax, created as a tripwire to prevent wealthy people from using huge deductions, including business losses, to entirely wipe out their tax liabilities.Mr. Trump paid alternative minimum tax in seven years between 2000 and 2017 — a total of $24.3 million, excluding refunds he received after filing.
Reading the details of the 11,000(!) words story one finds that it is largely a bummer for the ‘resistance’, not so much for Trump.
It essentially says:
- Trump is a quite rich international real estate investor.
- U.S. tax laws allow investors to minimize their reported income by claiming various kinds of deprecations and other gimmicks.
- Tax regulations that allows investors to carry forward leftover losses to reduce taxes in future years are especially helpful.
- Trump has good accountants and tax lawyers and has used the laws to their full extent to minimize his tax payments.
Is any of the above something we did not already knew?
What the Times story does NOT say is:
- Trump’s tax record reveal that he did something illegal.
The paper had surely hoped for more. It must have been especially bitter for its authors to write this paragraph:
By their very nature, the filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise information that Mr. Trump has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination. They report that Mr. Trump owns hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable assets, but they do not reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.
This is a dud. It is certainly not the campaign ammunition the Democrats had hoped for.
Published by Moon of Alabama
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.