Donald Trump Is Saying That Only Little People Pay Income Taxes


When Donald Trump’s three Atlantic City casinos and his vanity airline venture fell into bankruptcy, he was able to claim the $916 million loss against future taxes. As the New York Times reports, that means he probably has not paid any income taxes at all since 1995. Donald could have easily claimed $50 million in losses against his income every year, a figure much larger than his known income streams during the same period.

Echoing their candidate’s debate slip that not paying taxes makes him “smart,” this morning Donald’s campaign surrogates argued that he was a “genius” for taking his billion-dollar loss out of the American taxpayer’s hide. But none of them are ready to say that Donald should release his tax returns so we can all see exactly how “smart” he is.

Instead, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani tout Donald as “the only one who can fix” America’s income tax laws. What they really mean is that he’s too big to fail — and that only little people pay income taxes.

According to the Times, it’s unlikely that Donald has paid any income taxes since 1995. Reporters went to the trouble of estimating Donald’s income during the same period.

The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of “The Apprentice,” or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.

On ABC’s This Week, Giuliani said that Donald would have been “a fool” to pay personal income taxes after such a spectacular business failure.

“Not only that, he would have probably breached his fiduciary duty to investors, to his business,” Giuliani opined. “You have an obligation when you run a business to maximize the profits, and if there is a tax law that says I can deduct this, you deduct it. If you fail to deduct it, your investors can sue you.”

Get that? Donald J. Trump is a corporation, not a person, so we must treat him differently from regular people.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Gov. Chris ‘Bridgegate’ Christie also said the arrangement “shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is and that’s why Donald Trump is the best person to fix it. There is no one who has shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code.”

Donald is going to “fix” this situation — by raising taxes on middle and lower-class earners, because only the little people pay taxes. See how that works?

Meanwhile, a Trump Organization attorney argues that his client “has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions.”

But most Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes also pay other forms of tax, too. Widespread understanding of that fact is exactly what made Mitt Romney’s remark about “the 47%” intolerable to many voters.

And it’s rich to speak of Donald’s “charitable contributions” when we have recently learned that he never registered the Trump Foundation with the state of New York because he uses it as a personal and political slush fund.

Donald Trump is different from the rest of us. Normal people don’t get to stop paying taxes for 20 years because their megalomania-driven business ventures have failed in a great public spectacle. Regular folks don’t stiff the wedding caterer, call it “a favor,” and expect to be adored for their intelligence as a result.

This story isn’t finished, by the way. As one accounting expert explains here, Donald probably ‘parked’ his debts somewhere, in which case he still owes income taxes.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore Flickr

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