Sunday night the New York Times (which is far from failing or fake news) posted a bombshell story outlining how President Trump has been involved in questionable (I’m being kind) practices on his taxes, is in a dispute with the IRS that if it doesn’t go his way could cost him in excess of $100 million and has over $300 million in loans coming due in the next four years. There is a lot there, let’s explore it.
In 2016 and 2017 – the year he ran for the presidency and the first year of his term – Trump paid $750 in federal income tax. In 10 of the preceding 15 years he paid zero. Most American voters feel everyone should pay their fair share, do not claim to be a billionaire and pay considerably more than $750 a year in federal income tax.
The source of the tax documents the Times is apparently in possession of was not identified but it appears that they have legitimate documents because the information reinforces other information they have obtained over the past few years.
While, like Trump, I also graduated from a world class management school (after taking my own SATs) it is generally considered to be inferior to the University of Pennsylvania. However I remember how you calculate net worth (sometimes called wealth). In simple terms it entails deducting liabilities from the value of assets. Trump seems to have forgotten about the subtraction part. Perhaps that is why Tim O’Brien won the lawsuit in which he challenged the assertion that Trump was a billionaire. (In reality a decent high school accounting class would be sufficient on this count.)
The core of the lawsuit is a $72.9 million tax refund Trump claimed on his 2009 taxes and received in 2010. (I wonder how the return was ever issued in the first place.) If he had to repay it with interest and penalties the amount would now exceed $100 million which Trump doesn’t appear to have without selling assets that are not exactly at their peak value at the moment. Currently there are few buyers for office towers and golf courses. A “fire sale” by a desperate owner would further depress their value.
Another question the article begs is where Trump is going to get the $300 million over the next four years to pay those balloon payments on the existing loans. (Who the money is owed to is also interesting considering the fact that Trump is currently serving and wants another term as President.) Since the underlying assets are in most cases not operating in the black, are not at their prime market value and Trump has poor credit I can’t see any legitimate American banks anxious to refinance them.
Can you see why Trump is vulnerable from a national security standpoint? In fact if a person in a similar financial situation were applying for a mid-level government job in a sensitive area they would almost certainly not be hired and if they were would not receive the necessary security clearances. An interesting juxtaposition of facts is that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had difficulties (I’m being kind in my choice of words again) securing their security clearances. Dad/Father-in-law had to intercede over the objections of other senior staff.
Some of Trump’s business expenses are worth noting. It appears he claimed consultant fees on several projects where the consultants were his older children who were simultaneously listed as senior executives of the Trump organization. This is a case of one or the other but certainly not both simultaneously.
However the knee slapper of them all is $70,000 that Trump deducted as a business expense for the cost of maintaining his hair. If he really paid somebody $70,000 for that mess he is the victim of the worst rip off in American history.
The New York Times article is long and I can’t possibly cover it all in a short op-ed. If you want more detail I suggest you read it. Only the gullible and willfully ignorant still think Trump cares about anyone but himself with the possible exception of a few (perhaps as few as one) close family members.
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