For five years, the media has been trying to decipher Donald Trump’s tax riddle. He has evaded giving publicity to his moles since 2015, when he began his unlikely journey to the White House. In the early months of that journey, the moles were a curiosity, because his candidacy was a curiosity. When she ceased to be a curiosity, the moles became a thorn in his flesh.
Since this meat is protected by thick skin, Trump has had no trouble tweeting about conventions. So what if all the presidents and contenders for the presidency in the last half century (since Richard Nixon) have published their moles? Their rules of conduct do not apply to him.
He never backed down and said the moles are not of interest to the voter. He just kept saying that he could not publish them as long as the tax authorities checked his books. And checking. And checking. And checking.
The truth is that there is no contradiction between reviewing books and publishing. This is a matter for the advertiser only. But that’s what he said, and it didn’t particularly bother his supporters. This president has accustomed the public over the years in his demand for special treatment in a number of matters. The snout curves, too, have become accustomed to shrugging their shoulders whenever he demands more.
Two scoops on income tax
In a leaky city like Washington, where the president’s private conversations reach the front pages in almost real-time, no income tax leaks have been found. The reason is that such a leak is a violation of privacy, which the law severely punishes: up to five years in prison, a fine of a quarter of a million dollars.
Exactly two years ago, the New York Times managed to get its hands on an old mole from Trump, from the 1990s. She was juicy in her own right, and found out that Trump got $ 413 million from his father. This discovery pierced his balloon of pretensions to be considered a “self-success story.”
The New York Times on Trump: A headline mocking his tax reports on “chronic losses” and his attempts to evade taxes / Photo: Screenshot
The Times published the story on the eve of the midterm elections for Congress. It’s hard to know what effect, if any, that revelation had – but the Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives, and Trump’s presidency was stripped of its legislative power, because the U.S. needed the consent of both houses of Congress to legislate. Of the president, who has a deep resentment for her aunt.
We do not know who leaked the new moles, which relate to 17 years (not including the last two years). That’s a lot, the size of the Pentagon papers, published by the New York Times in 1971. Those papers shook the thresholds of American politics because they exposed years of deception in the conduct of the Vietnam War and undermined public confidence in his government to the extent that it changed the course of history.
It is difficult to know what will happen this time. The claim against Trump is not that he violated the law, though that is also possible. The claim is that he took advantage and kept taking advantage of every possible loophole, even after he was elected president, to evade paying taxes. Although he used to say, at least since 2011, that he “pays a lot” of taxes, he did not pay any taxes for 11 years, paid only $ 750 in each of the last two years of the moles, and managed to get a tax refund of (slight sore throat) $ 72 million.
Bottom line: Zero
In general, Trump did what very rich people do. 35 years ago, America was upset when it became known that the richest woman in the neighborhood, real estate woman Leona Helmzali, said that “only small people pay taxes.” Non-discreet.
The New York Times publication shows that while Trump began his presidential campaign, and talked a lot about his successes as a businessman, his accountants filed his tax return, the bottom line of which was the number “zero.” He did earn a little over $ 600 million in 2014 (mostly from his famous reality show, The Intern). But he has reported heavy losses at his golf clubs, the U.S. and Europe ($ 315 million since 2000), his famous hotel in Washington ($ 55 million) and his real estate services company ($ 134 million since 2000).
When the Times published its assessments from the 1990s, it excused its losses by depreciation. He repeated the explanation he gave in the televised debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016. So he said, “I like depreciation.”
The government is stupid, I’m smart
Trump’s lawyer in those years was Michael Cohen, who later testified against him in a House committee (and was sentenced to prison for fraud). Cohen claimed at the time that Trump showed him a fat check from the federal government, telling him that he “has a hard time believing in the stupidity of the government, which returns money to someone like me.”
Trump has never hidden his willingness to sneak through loopholes. During his 2016 campaign, he even credited his success in tricking the tax authorities into gaining “his cleverness.” He then expanded this usage, arguing that he would be better off than anyone else at closing the loopholes in the tax laws, because he knows them about Borien.
But his contribution to the tax system was completely different: in 2017 he signed a reform that included a massive reduction in corporate taxes (to 21%) and overseas profits; And a small lowering of the marginal tax ceiling. The reform, on the other hand, increased the maneuverability of tax regimes. It gave businesses the ability to deduct 20% of the tax imposed on them, if that tax rate is the same as the private tax rate imposed on the owner. The amazing result is that some of the largest corporations in America do not pay income tax. This includes Amazon, Netflix and IBM.
This almost certainly includes the so-called ‘Trump organization’, although the moles published by the New York Times end in 2017, and do not include the two years that have passed since the reform was introduced.
Everything is of course very embarrassing for a president, who stands a month before the election, when the wind blows against him, and all polls agree that he is five to ten percent behind his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
The Biden headquarters released an unexpected broadcast yesterday, which reveals the level of income tax of modest professionals from Trump. While the President of the United States paid $ 750 a year, an elementary school teacher paid $ 7,239, a firefighter paid $ 5,283, a construction supervisor paid $ 16,447 and a hospital nurse paid $ 10,216.
Owes $ 421 million
It is a state of affairs that may upset people regardless of their political preferences. As such the “Times” revelation stuck a stick in Trump’s wheels at a completely critical stage of the election campaign.
But beyond the teasing and political damage, the publication reveals two problems with quite serious potential for Trump:
The criticism of the books made by the tax authorities following the $ 72 million refund given to him in 2010 is what led him to a private expression of contempt for “the stupidity of the government.” If he is required to return the money, the amount will be greater than $ 100 million.
Within four years, most of Trump’s debts will be repaid, $ 421 million. These are indeed business debts, but he gave the banks a personal guarantee. If he is re-elected, the banks will have to decide whether to sue an incumbent president to repay his debts, or risk foreclosure on his property.
The triumphant status of the right
There is no difficulty in guessing that Trump has spent the last 48 hours gnashing his teeth. The revelation in the Times comes 24 hours after a moment of dramatic success, very rare these days, when Trump announced that he had chosen young judge Amy Connie Barrett as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor. The announcement in the White House Rose Garden was a victory for the American right, especially the Christian right, which Trump desperately needs for his massive election support.
The tax assessors stole his show. Republican election professionals clapped their hands in the face of Judge Barrett’s short life expectancy. Trump has already announced that the new revelations are “Pike News,” but declined the invitation to voluntarily disclose his moles.
Today (Tuesday) is a fateful day in the election campaign. Tonight (US time, Wednesday morning in the country) Trump and Biden will meet for their first televised debate.
His style when pushed into the corner is familiar and well known. In 2016 this style benefited him against the vulnerable and unpopular Hillary Clinton. Will he benefit him tonight? Will tax matters cast a heavy and long shadow on the president? Will Biden, who has shown very limited debating talent during his party’s primary election, be able to stand his ground, without being tempted by the president’s expected provocations?
It is not at all inconceivable that we will reach the end of the 72 hours that will decide the fate of the campaign: from the appointment of the judge, through the tax disclosures and over in an argument. Given that masses of voters have already begun to vote, whether at early ballots or through the mail, it may not be unreasonable to assume that in the absence of a proven immediate ability of the president to close the gap the chance of closing falls out of his hands.
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