9 Things We Could Learn From Trump’s Tax Returns
Among the many “unique” things about the Trump Presidency is his steadfast refusal to publicly release his tax returns. This defies the established practice followed by Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter.
Mr. Trump has justified his nondisclosure by claiming that he “is under a routine audit by the IRS” and will disclose his tax returns when the audit is complete. The IRS has stated publicly that their rules in no way prohibit him from releasing his taxes while the audit is in progress.
Here are nine things that disclosure of Trump’s tax returns could shed light on, and why those things are important.
Ties to Russia
In the wake of the US intelligence community’s belief that Russia worked to influence the Presidential election in favor of Trump, many people are concerned that Mr. Trump may have ties to Russia. Each day we seem to hear something new about someone close to him with some Russia connection. His tax returns could show financial transactions involving Russian Banks, the Russian government, or wealthy Russian individuals. If Trump has any such connections to Russia, it could help further connect some of the dots in the current Russia scandal.
If the President owes major debts to other countries or foreign banks, those debts could potentially impact his decisions regarding US relations with those countries. The former head of British intelligence, for example, has recently suggested that Mr. Trump may have borrowed heavily from Russian lenders during the 2008 financial crisis when he was having difficulty getting loans from lenders in the US. That could explain some of the otherwise inexplicable brotherly love between Trump and Putin.
Conflicts of Interest
We expect our President to do what is right for our country and our people. When the President has conflicts of interest – for example, a situation where doing the right thing for the American people could negatively impact his own personal wealth – there is a problem. Seeing Mr. Trump’s tax returns could help us further understand what conflicts of interest he may still have as President of the United States.
Inept Business Decisions
The major factor that Trump voters have cited more than any particular policy as their reason for supporting him is their belief in his superior background in business. They believed that his keen business acumen would translate into a more efficient, smart and organized government along with an enriched population. But much of Mr. Trump’s business prowess is self-proclaimed. We do know that four of his businesses went bankrupt, including a casino (how do you do that?). Did he make any other bad business decisions or dumb investments? So far his business skills have not appeared to result in a more efficient, smart or organized government, and the only people who appear on the docket to have their wealth enhanced are those who are already exceedingly rich.
Less Wealth Than He Publicly Claims to Have
Mr. Trump has spoken often about his own wealth. It is part of his “brand.” But is he as wealthy as he claims? Again, the glorious legend of Mr Trump’s wealth is one largely fed by his own boasting. It is entirely possible that his lavish lifestyle is the byproduct of massive loans that he must pay off. Seeing the actual reported numbers could help put some substance behind his claims.
Paying Minimal Taxes
Wealthy people can hire cunning accountants to help them pay as little in taxes as possible. This is possibly the case with Mr. Trump – a possibility which, if revealed, would almost certainly enhance the positive impression that his supporters have of him as a shrewd businessman. Nonetheless, it would be informative for the American public to see exactly how little proportionally a wealthy individual like Trump pays in taxes compared to the average American.
Of course, only a fool would report money laundering on their tax returns. Nonetheless, dollar amounts are what they are, and those would likely be reported. For example, Mr. Trump purchased a reportedly quite tasteless Palm Beach mansion in 2006 for $40 million, and then sold it in 2008 to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $100 million. Rybolovlev reportedly never lived there, but at the time was in the midst of a divorce from his wife that was likely to net her a multi-billion dollar settlement. Was Mr. Trump assisting Mr. Rybolovlev in laundering money? Trump’s tax returns could reveal similar transactions that might raise interesting questions.
Meager Charitable Giving
Mr. Trump claims to make many donations to charity. Yet the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold just won a Pulitzer prize for his reporting on Trump’s philanthropic life that would seem to contradict those claims. Trump’s tax returns would show how much he actually has given to charity.
Trump is a Wonderful and Honest Guy
Trump’s tax returns could in fact show that he is an honest, upstanding billionaire who pays what he needs to in taxes, has nothing shady or questionable in his finances, has done nothing that could raise questions about his ability to carry out his duties as a President loyal to the American people, has a history of giving back to enhance the wellbeing of the country that has enabled him to live so lavishly, and is in fact the infinitely successful and shrewd businessman that his voters thought that they were electing.
We have entrusted Mr. Trump with the highest office in the land. Should he not entrust the American people with a bit more info about who exactly we have elected? Today, April 15, many Americans across the country will take to the streets to demand just that.
“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”
– Former US President Richard M. Nixon
From resignation speech
– rob rünt
Photo of Donald Trump by Mggcb.
Photo of Protest in Minneapolis by Fibonacci Blue.