61 votes

Trump’s taxes show chronic losses and years of income tax avoidance

36 comments

  1. [4]
    rkcr
    Link
    This article calls it "tax avoidance" but there's no trickery here - he's losing money every year! To me, the main takeaway shouldn't be how little taxes he's paying, but that he is a perennial...

    This article calls it "tax avoidance" but there's no trickery here - he's losing money every year!

    To me, the main takeaway shouldn't be how little taxes he's paying, but that he is a perennial business loser who can't seem to make a profit on anything but his own image.

    29 votes
    1. SunSpotter
      Link Parent
      I'm just waiting for someone to goad Trump about his business losses and his status as a poor business man. What do you think the odds are he'd claim his businesses make loads of money and he's an...

      I'm just waiting for someone to goad Trump about his business losses and his status as a poor business man. What do you think the odds are he'd claim his businesses make loads of money and he's an amazing businessman, thereby implicating himself in tax fraud?

      13 votes
    2. [2]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      I think the real takeaway here is that money is fake and that so long as you can convince people you can create wealth or are rich and powerful you can have all the money you desire and abuse...

      I think the real takeaway here is that money is fake and that so long as you can convince people you can create wealth or are rich and powerful you can have all the money you desire and abuse loopholes like declaring bankruptcy 5 times in your life to maintain a lifestyle at the expense of others.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          Money is fake is a simplification not meant to be taken at face value (much like money) but really to point out the symptomatic flaws which allow wealth to be exploited by those in power and to...

          Money is fake is a simplification not meant to be taken at face value (much like money) but really to point out the symptomatic flaws which allow wealth to be exploited by those in power and to make people question what it really means when someone has a lot of wealth.

          Bitcoin is a great example of this that most people seem to agree seems 'odd' or 'off' - when you investigate it deeper there's not a lot of difference between bitcoin and printed money for some governments other than who's backing the currency and why it has inherent value, but just like time it's all just human agreement that something has a value or worth or shared experience or definition.

          9 votes
  2. andre
    Link
    Color nobody shocked, but looks like we finally have the actual returns, minus the last two years. According to the article there will be more coming in the subsequent days.

    Color nobody shocked, but looks like we finally have the actual returns, minus the last two years. According to the article there will be more coming in the subsequent days.

    15 votes
  3. [6]
    RapidEyeMovement
    Link
    This is the way I see it. You have a large empire of public facing companies that are all 'losing money'. It appears you are not trying to cut costs, and actually you are paying a lot of people an...

    This is the way I see it. You have a large empire of public facing companies that are all 'losing money'. It appears you are not trying to cut costs, and actually you are paying a lot of people an exorbitant amount of money for services, not hard assets. These 'losses' magically offset any profits you made on your other businesses. Which are all held by separate companies so if you need to cauterize one venture for any reason say a tax audit, bankruptcy court cannot claw back from any of your profitable businesses.

    It appears that these losing businesses are designed to funnel away any profits that they could possibly make. And yet year after year they stay in business, almost magically.

    13 votes
    1. [5]
      Nivlak
      Link Parent
      Isn’t this tactic used by Amazon? Bezos has also paid little tax compared to his $150+ billion worth.

      Isn’t this tactic used by Amazon? Bezos has also paid little tax compared to his $150+ billion worth.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Good_Apollo
        Link Parent
        Tax avoidance by the rich is a chronic widespread issue, but Bezos isn’t the President... These returns implicate money laundering too. Where’s all his wealth and power coming from when his...

        Tax avoidance by the rich is a chronic widespread issue, but Bezos isn’t the President...

        These returns implicate money laundering too. Where’s all his wealth and power coming from when his businesses make no money? Who is keeping them running? Who is lending to him when he’s such a liability?

        12 votes
        1. RapidEyeMovement
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          If you haven't read it, there is a new book out called Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis. It gives an interesting lens with which to view the world economy.

          If you haven't read it, there is a new book out called Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis. It gives an interesting lens with which to view the world economy.

          6 votes
      2. [2]
        RapidEyeMovement
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        We do not know what Jeff Bezos paid in taxes last year personally. We do know what Amazon paid in taxes because it is a publicly traded company and that information is provide to the SEC in public...

        We do not know what Jeff Bezos paid in taxes last year personally. We do know what Amazon paid in taxes because it is a publicly traded company and that information is provide to the SEC in public filings. That money is easy to follow and is pretty much all accounted for across the enterprise. Trump business ventures are not publicly traded so we have never seen this information before, because the SEC is not involved.

        This article breaks out how HUGE companies like amazon can 'get away' with not paying taxes. (TL:DR R&D, Carry forward of previous losses, employee Stock-Based Compensation, Deferral of Taxes, the New Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017)

        What we are seeing with Trumps business is all together different. We are seeing properties with massive losses, funneling money out of the business for no appreciable benefit.

        12 votes
        1. Eabryt
          Link Parent
          I've seen so many people engaging in whataboutism with Bezos, Gates, Zucks etc in regards to the $750 Trump paid. They all seem to completely miss the point that I think most people would like...

          I've seen so many people engaging in whataboutism with Bezos, Gates, Zucks etc in regards to the $750 Trump paid.

          They all seem to completely miss the point that I think most people would like those people to pay more in taxes too, that's a problem with our tax system as a whole. The losses & loans are a much bigger problem to me.

          8 votes
  4. [10]
    Ellimist
    Link
    I think this is something most people would’ve already assumed. How, if at all, will it affect the election? Will it affect the support from his base? To see just how much of a fraud he is? To see...

    I think this is something most people would’ve already assumed.

    How, if at all, will it affect the election? Will it affect the support from his base? To see just how much of a fraud he is? To see how he avoids paying taxes while Americans everywhere struggle to pay their bills?

    I have little faith it’ll change anything but I hope the Democrats find some way to attack this and expose Trump as the charlatan he is

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      psi
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Maybe in general, but not in any specificity. My only complaint with this article is that there's too much information being released at once; people will assume they understand the gist of it...

      I think this is something most people would’ve already assumed.

      Maybe in general, but not in any specificity. My only complaint with this article is that there's too much information being released at once; people will assume they understand the gist of it even without reading specifics, but in my opinion, the specifics are the kernel of this piece. For example:

      • Trump claimed nearly a billion dollars in losses in a single year.

      • Trump paid less than $750 in taxes in 2017 and 2018 (the last two years of Trump's tax returns the Times were able to obtain), which is less than the amount paid by the average middle class family.

      • Trump received a nearly $73 million refund in 2010. The IRS is currently investigating this refund, as he may have lied about/omitted information that would otherwise preclude him from qualifying. If Trump loses, he would owe over $100 million to the IRS.

      • Trump overpaid his daughter via "consulting fees", which he used to (illegitimately) reduce his tax liability. This would also be a legally dubious way of bypassing gift taxes, a parallel to the fraudulent manner in which Trump's father avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes when he died.

      • Trump regularly claimed questionable tax write-offs (eg, by claiming a personal residence, Seven Springs, as an "investment property" and "conservation easement"; or by writing-off personal legal fees as business expenses, as he did when he hired a lawyer to represent him personally during the inquiry into the 2016 Trump Tower meeting; or by claiming, probably inappropriately, $70,000 worth of haircuts in a single year as a business expense).

      • Trump's tax records quantify some of his financial entanglements with other nations (including authoritarian states), as well as quantify some self-dealing emolument violations (eg, Mar-a-Lago).

      • Finally: Trump is personally responsible for over $400 million in debts which are due within the next four years. This would single-handedly bar most people from obtaining security clearances (in fact, Kushner likely didn't receive his security clearance for similar reasons until Trump personally granted him one). Needless to say, anyone owning this debt would have massive leverage against the President. Compounding the problem, as the Times reports, is the fact that Trump has almost no liquid assets and therefore little means to pay back his debts.

      I've summarized these claims in the past tense, but these are recent tax returns -- we should assume that Trump continues to engage in these exploitative activities. I've also chosen to use weasel words like "illegitimately" and "questionable" since I'm not a lawyer. But let's be honest: this is probably evidence of fraud.

      13 votes
      1. pallas
        Link Parent
        This confuses me. The articles I've seen discussing this say that it was found by matching the amounts to financial disclosures of Ivanka. Is it known that Ivanka didn't report the consulting...

        Trump overpaid his daughter via "consulting fees", which he used to (illegitimately) reduce his tax liability. This would also be a legally dubious way of bypassing gift taxes, a parallel to the fraudulent manner in which Trump's father avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes when he died.

        This confuses me. The articles I've seen discussing this say that it was found by matching the amounts to financial disclosures of Ivanka. Is it known that Ivanka didn't report the consulting income on her taxes? If she did report, then isn't this mostly moving tax liability from him to her? And given his enormous reported losses, wouldn't it be quite likely that this would result in an increase in their combined tax liability?

        Is the complaint here that they are paying tax only once (Ivanka) rather than twice (Donald + gift)?

        2 votes
    2. DrStone
      Link Parent
      The tax avoidance might not do much, but anything to burst the bubble of "successful businessman" may help. Outside of NJ and NY, where he's had too many big failures for people to overlook, it...

      The tax avoidance might not do much, but anything to burst the bubble of "successful businessman" may help. Outside of NJ and NY, where he's had too many big failures for people to overlook, it seems he has been the most successful at creating his image of a successful and ruthless businessman. Many people were and are willing to overlook a lot of bad if they think he'll be able to negotiate deals and get the job done, and brush off failures with the thought that if a savvy businessman couldn't pull it off, probably nobody could. Once you chip away at that image, especially without invoking subjective social or moral judgements (e.g. hard financial loss numbers vs racism accusations), putting up with the failures or the rest of the package becomes less and less palatable.

      12 votes
    3. [2]
      Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      Same. This changes nothing for most voters, and probably doesn't really affect the Trump campaign per se. IMO where it does begin to matter is if it can be weaponized correctly against Trump...

      I have little faith it’ll change anything but I hope the Democrats find some way to attack this and expose Trump as the charlatan he is

      Same. This changes nothing for most voters, and probably doesn't really affect the Trump campaign per se. IMO where it does begin to matter is if it can be weaponized correctly against Trump personally. As a narcissist, how he thinks people perceive him is important. Being a tax dodger/evader/whatever doesn't matter to him. However if the media starts hammering on the point (accurate or not) that the tax returns prove he's not actually rich, that he has no money, that has always seemed to really get under his skin.

      What I would love to see is an exchange during the Trump/Biden debate where Biden makes some series of comments along these lines, and Trump actually loose his cool on stage. I think part of the reason that he maintains his appeal to his base is that he mostly maintains a cool, calm demeanor even when spewing bullshit and vitriol (see: Axios interview).

      7 votes
      1. Eabryt
        Link Parent
        To be fair, Jonathan Swan basically just played to his ego the whole time to keep him from getting too upset. Otherwise I agree though.

        (see: Axios interview).

        To be fair, Jonathan Swan basically just played to his ego the whole time to keep him from getting too upset.

        Otherwise I agree though.

        2 votes
    4. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      To be fair, a lot of the tax avoidance (which is legal, by definition) is the most legal kind -- namely, barely making any net income.

      To see how he avoids paying taxes while Americans everywhere struggle to pay their bills?

      To be fair, a lot of the tax avoidance (which is legal, by definition) is the most legal kind -- namely, barely making any net income.

      6 votes
    5. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      They already loved him in 2016 when he said avoiding taxes makes him smart. “This will really upset the reasonable people.” says the person that has sabotaged their ability to reason.

      To see how he avoids paying taxes while Americans everywhere struggle to pay their bills?

      They already loved him in 2016 when he said avoiding taxes makes him smart.


      “This will really upset the reasonable people.” says the person that has sabotaged their ability to reason.

      5 votes
    6. [2]
      Eabryt
      Link Parent
      I'm trying to think what a good line of attack would be for Biden at the debate Tuesday. Come out too strong the media will portray him as aggressive and argumentative, too weak and I think lots...

      I'm trying to think what a good line of attack would be for Biden at the debate Tuesday.

      Come out too strong the media will portray him as aggressive and argumentative, too weak and I think lots of voters will be upset.

      1. rkcr
        Link Parent
        Biden could point out that most Americans make more money than Trump does.

        Biden could point out that most Americans make more money than Trump does.

        6 votes
  5. Eabryt
    Link
    Absolutely not surprised by this, and at this point I'm honestly not sure if it will change anyone's votes. That said, I think it's incredibly important to report and continue to dig. The truth is...

    Absolutely not surprised by this, and at this point I'm honestly not sure if it will change anyone's votes.

    That said, I think it's incredibly important to report and continue to dig. The truth is important and deserves to be heard, even if no one is listening.

    9 votes
  6. psi
    Link
    This is a long article, and people are rightfully upset at the $750 figure, but I'd recommend people ctrl-f "THE $72.9 MILLION MANEUVER". In essence, Trump took advantage of (ironically) an...

    This is a long article, and people are rightfully upset at the $750 figure, but I'd recommend people ctrl-f "THE $72.9 MILLION MANEUVER".

    In essence, Trump took advantage of (ironically) an Obama-era rule meant to address the Great Recession, which resulted in the IRS giving Trump a $72.9 million refund in 2010 . But that refund would only be valid under certain circumstances.

    A partner who walks away from a business with nothing — what tax laws refer to as abandonment — can suddenly declare all the losses on the business that could not be used in prior years. But there are a few catches, including this: Abandonment is essentially an all-or-nothing proposition. If the I.R.S. learns that the owner received anything of value, the allowable losses are reduced to just $3,000 a year.

    And Mr. Trump does appear to have received something. When the casino bankruptcy concluded, he got 5 percent of the stock in the new company. The materials reviewed by The Times do not make clear whether Mr. Trump’s refund application reflected his public declaration of abandonment. If it did, that 5 percent could place his entire refund in question.

    Trump's feud with the IRS concerns this refund. If the auditors prevail, Trump will owe over $100 million in taxes: the illegitimate tax refund plus interest plus possible penalties (albeit minus $3,000).

    If this allegation holds up, Trump hasn't just failed to pay his fair share; he stole from us, too.

    9 votes
  7. [3]
    MonkeyPants
    Link
    I would imagine this is Trump's worst nightmare. This portrays him as a loser. He surely wouldn't start a war with Iran purely to try and win an election, would he?

    I would imagine this is Trump's worst nightmare. This portrays him as a loser.

    He surely wouldn't start a war with Iran purely to try and win an election, would he?

    6 votes
  8. [10]
    ohyran
    Link
    I love that I pay more taxes than the US president. I mean "silver linings" and all? Eh?

    I love that I pay more taxes than the US president.

    I mean "silver linings" and all? Eh?

    1 vote
    1. [9]
      moocow1452
      Link Parent
      You might be interested in some campaign merch then... https://store.joebiden.com/I-Paid-More-In-Taxes-Than-Donald-Trump-Vinyl-Stickers-2-Pack/
      2 votes
      1. [7]
        andre
        Link Parent
        Wow, the Biden campaign wasted no time getting that fresh merch out.

        Wow, the Biden campaign wasted no time getting that fresh merch out.

        3 votes
        1. [6]
          Eabryt
          Link Parent
          I have been incredibly impressed by the Biden campaign's ability to "clap back" so far. Not sure if you saw it or not, but they also put out this great statement about drug tests....

          I have been incredibly impressed by the Biden campaign's ability to "clap back" so far. Not sure if you saw it or not, but they also put out this great statement about drug tests.

          https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/1310367420561973248

          Biden campaign on President Trump's attempts to make up a drug test policy for the upcoming presidential debate:

          Joe Biden "intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it."

          https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/1310367526925275137

          "We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn't make a plan to stop COVID-19."

          4 votes
          1. [5]
            Good_Apollo
            Link Parent
            That’s pretty good. What’s the story on Trump wanting the debates to include a drug test? Isn’t he hopped up on a drug cocktail like 24/7? His usual projection?

            That’s pretty good. What’s the story on Trump wanting the debates to include a drug test?

            Isn’t he hopped up on a drug cocktail like 24/7? His usual projection?

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              Eabryt
              Link Parent
              I haven't looked too closely in to it, but I think it's because Trump & Co. went on for so long about how Biden has dementia and so now that he's been making all these speeches and has been...

              I haven't looked too closely in to it, but I think it's because Trump & Co. went on for so long about how Biden has dementia and so now that he's been making all these speeches and has been sounding, you know, cognizant, they've had to pivot and clearly they're never wrong so the evil DNC is pumping Biden full of drugs so he can read the words on his teleprompter that he's seeing for the first time.

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                Good_Apollo
                Link Parent
                Ah, that sounds right. I don’t know how anyone can listen to Trump and not think that there’s something wrong with him too. His popularity ever surprises me. Then again I’m also of the mind that...

                Ah, that sounds right. I don’t know how anyone can listen to Trump and not think that there’s something wrong with him too. His popularity ever surprises me.

                Then again I’m also of the mind that we should, like, maybe stop primarily electing geriatrics to run the country.

                2 votes
                1. Eabryt
                  Link Parent
                  I really hope this is the last time. I think people are way more politically active now than at any point in recent history and lots of people are fed up with people not impacted by their laws...

                  I really hope this is the last time.

                  I think people are way more politically active now than at any point in recent history and lots of people are fed up with people not impacted by their laws making them.

                  2 votes
            2. Turtle
              Link Parent
              Biden allegedly has dementia. The drug test would be to detect nootropics and such.

              Biden allegedly has dementia. The drug test would be to detect nootropics and such.

              2 votes
      2. ohyran
        Link Parent
        Not from the US though

        Not from the US though

        1 vote