Op-ed: As is often the case, answers about Donald Trump’s conduct raise more questions than they answer.
Virtually everyone knows Trump didn’t pay any taxes for 18 years because of nearly $1 billion investment losses. Some think this is genius. Some think he is robbing the country by not paying his share.
But did he even suffer these losses?
An accountant, Allan Sloan, who wrote a column for the Washington Post is accusing Trump of exaggerating his loses.
Sloan wrote the claim loss “vastly exceeds any cash losses that Trump would have suffered in the collapse of his casino-hotel-airline empire, which fell apart in the early 1990s and resulted in four bankruptcies.”
He wrote these losses were not real money, but paper, a mirage. There have been many reports in creditable news companies that Trump did not pay many of his bills. He has even admitted it, saying the people involved didn’t do a good job. It is hard to imagine how the vendor that sold him $100,000 in pianos did a bad job.
“They’re almost certainly paper losses rather than out-of-pocket losses. It’s possible that those losses somehow vanished into the ether from which they came — we have no way to tell,” Sloan wrote.
In other words, he avoided taxes claiming he had lost money he never spent.
Sloan wrote: “The major takeaway from the three pages of Trump’s 1995 returns that the Times made public is that Trump is right when he says the system is rigged. What he doesn’t say is that it’s rigged in his favor and in the favor of people like him — and against regular people, those of us who earn money, pay income tax on it, and financially support the country in which we live.”
“There’s a real question … as to whether these losses are economic -- through spectacular failures of Mr. Trump’s business, tax avoidance, perhaps lawful, or maybe something much worse,” said Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.
“It’s possible some of the money Trump lost wasn’t even his."
“If he borrowed from a bank, it’s their money that disappeared… It’s almost inconceivable that he’s actually out of pocket $900 million dollars,” Howard Abrams, a professor at the University of San Diego Law School. “In essence, he’s deducting their losses.”
Many analysts said Trump broke his obligations to investors by using the tax laws to benefit himself personally at their expense.
A week of attacks on women, the tax reports, close ties with the Russian government, illegal visits to Cuba and other events have stopped his surge in the polls and Hillary Clinton is moving up.
Monday morning the state of New York suspended the certification of Trump’s foundation, which means it cannot collect donations, according to MSNBC. Meanwhile, the media has spent months focusing on the Clinton Foundation without finding a single misstep.
Trump already is facing trials on alleged fraud at Trump University.
Op-ed: An unknown source provided the New York Times’ tax records that show Donald Trump lost nearly a billion dollars in 1996. The newspaper, and other media, said the revelation could mean Trump hasn’t had to pay taxes for all the years since.
The Trump campaign did not deny the loss but said the records had been illegally obtained, and threatened legal action.
The Times’ decision to report the loss likely would be covered by the First Amendment guarantees, especially since so far there is no claim that the information is false.
And in today’s wired world there is no way to put this information back in what is Trump’s Pandora box.
However, the Washington Post said Times' staff might be prosecuted. The Post had risked just that when it published the Watergate story.
The Post said: "It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution."
The newspaper said the losses were “derives from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic city casinos…”
Politico’s headline on the tax report said: "Bombshell Report sends GOP Nominee Reeling.”
The news site said: “Trump’s refusal to release any tax returns, something every presidential nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972 has done, has been one of the larger clouds hanging over his campaign and one his Democratic opponent has sought to exploit.
It now appears as though the GOP nominee’s failure to come clean has backfired, with the Times drawing one of the same conclusions that Hillary Clinton offered as a possible explanation for Trump’s secrecy in last Monday’s debate — that he has paid little or no federal income tax for some time.”
And it explains why he has refused to release his taxes as has every major candidate since Richard Nixon.
In what seemed like the plot of a movie about Watergate or Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor,” the Times does not know the source of the records.
“The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at The Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances,” the newspaper said.
It had a tax specialist examine them and it was determined he may have been able to avoid all taxes since then. The Washington Post also had a tax accountant review them, and he came to the same conclusion.
In the past week, Trump’s surge in popularity had stopped after a poor performance in the first debate. Clinton has moved further ahead in most polls.
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2016 US election news and other news from the USA
Worked in journalism, including on the Internet, for more than 40 years. Started as a news editor at the Colorado Daily at the University of Colorado, joined a small Montana newspaper, the Helena Independent-Record, and then United Press International.
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