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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 

T is for Trump, taxes and twofer

by Tom Sullivan


Photo by Bin im Garten via Creative Commons.

David Cay Johnston suggested last night on the "Rachel Maddow Show" it was possible that President Donald Trump leaked pages from his own 2005 tax form. If so, Trump got a twofer. (Guys like Trump do almost nothing that isn't at least a twofer.) He knocked right off the front pages the disastrous headlines about 24 million people losing their health insurance under the Republican healthcare plan. (The story is gone from the front pages of all but one of the local papers Digby highlighted yesterday.)

Plus, Trump got to smack around the media for publicizing the tax form he himself leaked. (If he did, which we don't know.) But as Johnston observes, Trump "has a long history of leaking things about himself when he thinks it's in his interests."

In fact, the White House issued a statement condemning the leak before the show aired:
"You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago," a White House official said in a statement.

Trump paid $38 million in tax on an income of more than $150 million in 2005, the White House official acknowledged, "even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction."

"Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required," the White House official said.
The New York Times provides details from the two pages:
The forms showed that Mr. Trump made $67 million in real estate royalties, $42 million in business income, $32 million in capital gains, $9 million in taxable interest and $998,599 in salary in 2005, for a total of nearly $153 million. After writing off $103 million, he reported adjusted gross income of nearly $49 million. In the end, he had to write a check for $2,450,597, including penalties and interest for late payment.
Without more details it is not possible to determine whether the $103 million loss is a carryover from the nearly $1 billion loss he claimed in 1995.

After promising in January 2016 to release his "very big returns ... all approved and very beautiful," Trump backpedaled for the remainder of the presidential campaign, claiming he could not release them because he was under audit. (Not true.) He faces increasing pressure to do so now as president as questions mount about his curious protectiveness regarding Russia.

If Trump leaked the pages himself, one could assume he chose 2005 to put his recent tax-paying in the best light. A disclosure from 1981 showed he paid nothing for "at least two years in the late 1970s."

The release last night overall was more light than heat, except for the heat coming from the Trump family:

The disclosure did, however, afford the New York Times' Peter Baker and Jesse Drucker the opportunity to offer this pithy rejoinder to Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet:

The 1995 deduction was derived from the financial wreckage of some of the companies Mr. Trump drove into bankruptcy years ago, including his Atlantic City casinos, and would have allowed him to cancel out taxable income for an 18-year period. A tax code provision benefiting real estate developers, which took effect in 1993, permitted businesses like Mr. Trump’s to take tax deductions for losing other people’s money.
Thanks to his voters, Trump now has the opportunity to lose millions of other people's health coverage.