Trump’s Tax Loophole — Ingenious Yet Hypocritical


The Sunflower

Sometimes bombshells come packaged in manila envelopes. The three pages of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns leaked to the New York Times by mail and published on Saturday, show that the Republican nominee for president might well have avoided paying federal income taxes for up to eighteen years.

In 1995, in the midst of his perilous Atlantic City business ventures, Trump declared a $916 million loss on his personal income tax returns. Skillfully using a common tax loophole for the very wealthy, he legally maneuvered his debt to ensure that his next nearly $1 billion in claimed income could go un-taxed.

Though perfectly legal, Trump’s financial actions are being attacked by his opponents on moral grounds. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton maintains that he failed to uphold his patriotic duty as a U.S. citizen to give back to the country.

“He abuses his power, games the system, (and) puts his own interests ahead of the country’s,” Clinton said at a rally Monday in Ohio.

For someone who routinely depicts America as wasteful and corrupt, it is at least notable that Trump has worked to minimize his tax contribution.

This newfound information casts several of Trump’s previous comments in a hypocritical light. In the past, he has berated everyone from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin to former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on avoiding tax payment and accepting bailouts. He wants to be both the shrewd businessman and the moral police.

For his part, Trump has not denied any information released in the returns. Far from being apologetic, he has touted his financial dealings publically.

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them,” Trump said to his supporters at a rally Monday in Colorado.

The argument is that Trump intimately knows the special interest tax loopholes and can close many as president. However, the former real estate mogul’s plans for tax reform center around further slashing taxes for the rich to encourage a trickle-down economy.

Independent analyses of his tax reform goals indicate that any benefit they might have for the working class would be dwarfed by their benefits for the richest of the country.

Trump has a unique understanding of wealth and business experience. There is no doubt that he has soundly manipulated the U.S. tax system in the interest of his personal and entrepreneurial well-being. He has been working for decades to strengthen his brand, and there is no telling what other financial secrets lurk in the decades of tax returns his campaign continues to withhold from the public.

Trump is simultaneously patting himself on the back and shielding the American people from the truth. In effect, he wants voters to trust him on this one; he gamed the system and now he can set things straight. It is up to the people to decide whether Donald Trump is a financial genius who wants to fix the system or an unpatriotic deadbeat who refuses to pay his fair share.