At long last, the veil has been lifted from President Donald Trump's tax returns, thanks to rigorous investigative reporting by The New York Times. By all indications, Trump has for years been abusing federal tax law to claim all sorts of perks, from luxury retreats to hair stylists, as tax deductions. For many years, those deductions enabled him to zero-out his tax bill while, in 2016 and 2017, his tax bill resulted in an annual payment of only $750.
The voluminous Times report, which took up the top half of Monday's front page and six full inside pages, is simply too big for voters to ignore — especially moderate Republicans who are tired of being played as chumps. Part of the Trump allure in 2016 was his mythical image as a successful billionaire businessman. His tax returns are a portrait of utter failure. Trump has managed to drive virtually everything he touches into unsustainable debt, if not bankruptcy.
His tax records show him so mired in debt and potentially fraudulent deduction claims that the end of his presidency could ultimately yield legal action along with a potential $100 million tax bill and hundreds of millions more in loans coming due. Reelection for Trump means buying four more years so he can figure out how to stave off financial ruin.
Equally important is the insulting message his tax evasion sends to law-abiding, tax-paying Americans. While Trump was jetting around the world on his private plane, staying at Trump resorts or escaping to family-owned retreats, he was asserting to the Internal Revenue Service that his companies were so indebted that the government owed him money, not the other way around. He claimed, and received, a refund of $72.9 million in 2010 from the federal government along with $21.2 million in state and local refunds.
But America's bills were still due. When Trump evaded paying his fair share, that portion of the bill was passed to the rest of the tax-paying public. It wasn't Trump's fabulous business acumen that furnished the funds for his lavish lifestyle; it was the American taxpayer. He wrote off silly things, such as $70,000 for the people who concocted and sustained his weird hair style. He charged taxpayers for "consulting fees" that included hundreds of thousands of dollars he paid to his daughter, Ivanka.
In short, the Times' reporting exposes Trump for the con man he is, which could help explain why he has gone to such great efforts to hide his tax returns from public view. He's gotten away for years with playing the government and American voters as chumps, suckers and losers. The Nov. 3 election result is the ultimate test to prove whether he made the right play, or whether voters have finally caught on to his con.
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