Dear Ted and Jody:
Since 1976 no Republican or Democrat nominee for president has failed to disclose tax returns. Indeed, most disclose for more than a couple of years. Several people running for the parties’ nominations, at least seven Republican and one Democrat, have not disclosed tax returns; but, every nominee has released tax returns. That is until now. So I have been wondering why Donald Trump is going against a 40 year tradition. In thinking about his refusal, one has to examine his stated reason. He is being audited. For starters, the Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service does not prohibit tax payers from publicizing their tax returns when the IRS is doing an audit of those returns. So, the decision to release or not release is Donald Trump’s alone. Further, the IRS will not confirm nor deny they are auditing anyone’s tax returns. So, he can claim he is being audited when he is not. However, we will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is telling the truth about an audit. In case he is telling the truth, surely all of his prior year’s tax returns surely aren’t all being audited. He could release those.
So, the first reason, I came up with is given his prior statements about paying as little in taxes as possible, as according to him taxes are a waste of money, it well could be he didn’t pay any US taxes or so little as to be very embarrassing for a candidate for public office. If he has half the money he claims he has, he can well afford to hire a combination of cracker jack tax accounts and expensive tax attorneys to legally structure his income and expenditures to avoid paying taxes (or at least a lot of taxes).
Since he has international business interests, it is entirely possible he pays more in taxes to foreign countries (indeed, maybe Russia is one country whose government he supports with his tax dollars. It might help explain why Donald Trump seems to enamored of Putin and plans to work with him). than he does to the US. That bit of information would be on his tax returns for those clever tax accountants and layers know to use those kinds of credits to lower their clients’ US tax obligations (I did take a tax course about 20 years ago, that stood out in my notes).
Whether or not we citizens donate to charities, we do like our candidates to donate. Despite the fact that claiming to be a billionaire several times over, one contribution to the Clinton Foundation for $100,000, that we know about in past years given recent news reports, is not nearly enough to meet the standard of tithing that Romney set. While the man claims to be charitable and generous, that characterization may be somewhat contrary to what he actually does with his money.
Recently, a news report says Donald Trump has borrowed money from Goldman Sacs, one of the Wall Street firms he claims is in bed with Hillary Clinton. If this is true, Goldman Sacs may have a stronger hold over Donald Trump than they do over Hillary Clinton. That same news report says Donald Trump has borrowed money from China, the very country he claims has an unfair advantage over the US in the way they pay their workers, steal intellectual properties, and manipulate their currency. Hmmm. There are rumors that he also has business interests in Russia. If true, that would show up on his tax returns.
Then there is the possibility that he doesn’t earn as much money as he claims. That would certainly show up and show him up.
Do gains and losses from civil actions, like bankruptcies show up on tax returns. I suspect, if you know how to read them, they do. It would be somewhat embarrassing if he earned money from his bankruptcies given he stiffed any number of folks with whom he had contracts. Remember, signing a contract is similar to taking an oath of office.
One of Trump’s sons, said the other day that releasing the taxes, several hundred pages, would not make sense as people would not understand them and would cherry pick them for damaging information. On the former, give the American people a break-one of them is bound to understand the returns. On the latter, yes, that is the purpose of releasing the returns to show there is nothing to hide. But then there is something to hide, or the returns would be released.
There is the possibility that disclosing his returns would put him at a financial disadvantage if the plaintiffs in the law suit against him for the Trump University swindle knew how much to actually ask in damages and pain and suffering. Perhaps if Trump had not besmirched the integrity of the presiding judge this would not be an issue.
The son’s comments give me my final possibility. Donald Trump does not release his returns as they are very complicated and he is afraid that some bright tax student will figure out what he is trying to hide from Uncle Sam and tell the IRS who are trying to wade through it all. He fears a fresh set of eyes will cause him to owe more than the IRS could find on its own.
I would like to think I have covered all the possible reasons Donald Trump has not released his tax returns. However, had I written this back during the Republican primary, I only had three possible reasons. Now that I have 10 (counting Goleman Sacs and China as two), I hesitate to make such a claim as there are still a couple of months left in the race for the White House. If Trump and his campaign hold true to course, undoubtedly he will give me evidence of more possibilities. However, there is always the possibility he could make a liar and poor guesser out of me and release his taxes.
Actually I wouldn’t mind if he made a liar out of me. Perhaps we should start by asking him to release his birth certificate—the long form.
Warmest regards, Ed