Newly released documents show that former President Donald Trump paid little or nothing in federal income taxes during his presidency. Trump, despite reporting millions of dollars earned, claimed high business losses to keep his tax bill low. The documents, released by House Democrats, show that Trump paid just $750 in 2016. Then, in 2017, Trump again paid just $750. In 2020? Trump paid $0 in income tax.
There’s a lot to unpack here, from the general big picture, to the hyper-specific.
With respect to the big picture, let me take a moment to point out income inequality in America.
I’m not even saying Trump broke the law here. I have no idea whether Trump violated tax code. I think it’s very possible he did not – which would mean the tax code is set up in a way that allows a billionaire real estate mogul to pay $1500 in income tax over a three-year period.
Meanwhile, I (and every plumber, grocer, mechanic, and waitress in America) paid significantly more taxes than Trump during the years in question.
Did you? I suspect you did. I also earned significantly less than Trump during the period in question. Did you? I suspect you did. That should offend you.
The IRS typically audits the taxes of every president. But the IRS did not began vetting Trump’s taxes until being pressured to do so in 2019.
While president, Trump claimed he was under IRS audit – which Trump said was why he did not voluntarily disclose his taxes. Of course, presidents have a longstanding tradition of disclosing their taxes. Although, no law requires presidents to disclose their taxes, so Trump was under no formal obligation to do so.
Now, the IRS will have to take a closer look at Trump’s books, to see if anything suspicious is afoot.
Well, I’m not a tax attorney but somethings afoot. Either Trump did something illegal. Or, the more concerning prospect, Trump did everything by the book and legally paid such a spartan tax rate.
Problems Mounting for Trump
The prospective scandal brewing with Trump’s taxes is merely a drop in the bucket. Trump’s legal problems are becoming so numerous as to seem satirical. Trump’s problems are becoming hard to keep track of.
You’ve got the investigation of the sensitive documents, in which the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home to recover documents Trump took with him when he left the White House. Then you’ve got the January 6th business; the House just made formal criminal referrals to the Justice Department, recommending that Trump be charged with insurrection (amongst other things) for his role in the January 6th riots.
If the Justice Department decides to bring charges against Trump, he would become the first president in US history to be charged criminally. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, has already been charged criminally; a case is pending in the State of New York, in which Trump’s company has been accused of fraudulently inflating its value so as to receive more favorable rates on business loans.
To top it off, Trump caused a political firestorm when he had Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, two schmucks with a well-documented history of antisemitism.
In all, Trump has a lot going on. The newest tax revelation will probably get lost in the noise.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.