Why Trump’s tax return matters

Published 12:26 pm Thursday, September 22, 2016

Donald Trump continues to refuse to release any federal income tax returns to the public. He is the only candidate in the last 40 years to do so. Hillary Clinton has released tax returns going back to 1977. Trump or his surrogates have given various reasons for this from he’s under audit to the returns are too complicated to detracting from his message. All of these are bogus. The question we should be asking is “What is Trump hiding?” I have come up with four possibilities.

First, Trump isn’t worth anywhere near the $10 billion he claims. Forbes lists his net worth at only $4.5 billion. Trump himself in a May financial report to the Federal Election Commission shows assets of only $1.5 billion. While his actual net worth is immaterial to being president, Trump’s only claim to fame is his wealth. If there is a major difference, it will show he’s misleading the American people.

Secondly, Trump pays little or no income tax. Trump has said Mitt Romney made a mistake in revealing he paid a tax rate of 14 percent despite being a multi-millionaire. Trump is afraid to show he probably paid a lot less. For 2015, Bill and Hillary Clinton paid federal taxes at a rate of 34.2 percent.

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Third, Trump is perpetrating a con job as far as charitable donations go. According to the Washington Post, despite Trump’s appearances at public charity events, he likes giving other people’s money away but is reluctant to give away his own. The Post article says Trump hasn’t made a contribution to his own foundation since 2008. Instead, the foundation collects donations from others and then donates the money while giving the impression the money came from Trump. In addition, his foundation gave an illegal donation of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s campaign; she subsequently dropped an ongoing investigation of Trump University. Trump also spent $20,000 of his foundation’s money to buy a portrait of himself. In contrast, the Clintons gave $1 million to charity while taking no salary from the Clinton Foundation.

Finally, what about Trump’s foreign loans? The New York Times reports Trump’s companies owe $650 million in loans, including some from the Chinese government-owned Bank of China.

Trump also owes $100 million to Deutche Bank, a company that violated the Dodd-Frank Act. Does Trump owe money to the Russians? It might explain his bromance with Vladimir Putin.

The American people need to know to who and how much Trump is in hock to.

James Peca is a retired government analyst living in Farmville. His email address is Jep315@gmail.com.