By Emma Campbell
On Sept. 27, The New York Times published a landmark exposé detailing President Donald Trump’s extensive tax avoidance.
Trump’s tax returns, which were supplied to the Times by anonymous sources, showed that he paid no income taxes for 11 years, paid a mere $750 in income tax in the first year of his presidency in 2017, and is in danger of bankruptcy, with the due date on hundreds of millions of dollars in loans impending.
“Made up, fake,” Trump said in a White House press conference on Sept. 27. “They want to create a little bit of story. They’re doing anything they can. Not only that. That’s the least of it. I mean the stories that I read are so fake, they’re so phony.”
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average federal income rate for the highest .001% of tax filers was 24.1% in 2017. This means that Trump paid about $400 million less per year in combined federal income taxes than the average filer in that same bracket.
“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet wrote in his editor’s note on the Trump tax investigation.
If the long-sought documents obtained by the Times are accurate — and we can assume they are, judging by the immense personal risk the unnamed sources reportedly took in providing the records — Trump is a liar and a cheat.
The worst part of Trump paying less in yearly taxes than the average fast-food worker — apart from the fact that it will do nothing to dissuade his fanatical base from support — is that it’s entirely legal.
Trump may be bad at business, but he’s insidious with his taxes. The current tax code permits Trump to work around the system, carrying forward losses from failing businesses and deducting elements of his lavish lifestyle like private jets, vacation homes, and $70,000 hair styling costs as “business expenses.”
More shocking than the realization that Trump pays $70,000 for his perpetually ridiculed hair are discoveries surrounding his charitable tax deductions. He donated the land surrounding his New York mansion to land conservancy, using this apparent act of selflessness to collect a $21.1 million charity tax break.
“This shows that Trump is either a very bad businessman or a tax cheat who is not respecting the tax system that he is asking everyone else to pay,” Chief Executive of Tax Justice System Alex Cobham said. “Probably both are true.”
The revelations in Trump’s tax returns prove our president is a liar, but the American people already knew that. In the eyes of his supporters, this investigation may be revealing of something worse than Trump’s dishonesty — his failure.
Since the beginning of his race to “make America great again,” Trump has collected a slew of diehard supporters. Whether they back their candidate out of partisan loyalty, desperation, or genuine faith, Trump’s supporters align themselves on one fundamental conviction: that their president is an unequivocal winner.
Trump’s tax returns prove that when it comes to the president’s business ventures, he’s literally one of America’s biggest losers.
Featured Photo caption: Last week, The New York Times published an investigative piece detailing President Donald Trump’s history with tax evasion and business losses. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.