The date of this writing is Sunday, April 14, 2019 and it is well into the evening as I have just completed the electronic filing of my 2018 income taxes. I thank God and Intuit Corporation for the miracle of the software package called Turbo Tax as this truly amazing product reduces the complexities of the US tax code to the answering of a few hundred yes-no, multiple choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions.
I’m certainly no high-net-worth individual; my tax return represents my small business and rental property. Absent are the offshore accounts, European villas, international financial transactions and complex trust instruments and yet my own relatively simple and straightforward tax return prints out to 46 pages!
Even with a strong academic background in business and law, and a business owner for most of my career, the finer points of the Depreciation and Amortization form, MACRS deductions, the Qualified Business Income Component worksheet with the tentative QBI component and UBIA after applicable SSTB reductions is pretty much a mystery to me, produced as if by magic via my successful answers to the hundreds of questions.
I can only imagine what the tax returns for the likes of a Donald Trump might encompass by comparison. In todays tax world, almost every single project benefits from the formation of individual corporations. In the Trump world, it would not be uncommon for his signature to appear on scores of returns, each representing a single project.
The Internal Revenue Service, (IRS), routinely audits high net-worth taxpayers like Trump. Less than 1% of taxpayers earning less than $50,000.00 are audited whereas nearly 10% of those earning more than $10 million are. The Hill reports that Trump has been audited for 12 consecutive years.
After 12 years of audits, isn’t it safe to say that his financial affairs and their legality have been fully vetted? Aren’t the trained, professional auditors at the IRS better suited to analyze the intricacies and details of a complex tax return than the average person? Without extensive and advanced tax law training, I believe that the man-on-the-street wouldn’t have the vaguest idea of how to draw any conclusions or make any informed judgments about anything in that return. If Trump had done something in violation of the tax law, the 12 audits would have exposed those failings long ago.
Presidents are not required by law to release their tax returns. The mere establishment by convention of that expectation is not warranted, especially because Trump is the first President to come from a business background of the type that produces tax returns unlike conventional wage earners and employees.
The enthusiasm to demand Trump’s tax information is a more-of-the-same witch-hunt, now that he has been cleared of the ridiculous charge of colluding with Russia to undermine our elections. Blind rage and hatred is what fuels the fire of discontent that burns in the chest of those who would trade our current state of prosperity, full employment and success for the collapse of it all, simply to bury a man they can’t stand.