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.
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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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