Trump Return Shows How He Exploited Loopholes

Release Highlights His Refusal to Create Blind Trust

Posted by Dale Eisman on March 15, 2017


A snapshot of President Trump’s tax history – albeit a tiny one – is finally in the public arena this morning and it turns out that he actually has paid taxes, or at least that he paid them in 2005.

But as DCReport.org, the website that obtained two pages of Trump’s ’05 return, reported, Trump’s reported income of $153 million put him in the top 1 percent of 2005 wage earners while his effective tax rate of 25 percent is more like the rate shouldered by the other 99 percent of much less affluent Americans.

The White House suggested that release of the partial return violated federal law but acknowledged that the copies obtained by DC Report are authentic. They show that Trump took advantage of tax provisions available to real estate developers to write off more than $100 million in business losses.

“Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world, with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said.

Not surprisingly, there was nothing in the statement about Trump’s responsibility to the country and no suggestion that his return illustrates the need for tax reforms that eliminate or limit provisions like the business loss write off he exploited so effectively.

Most of Trump’s $36.6 million in tax payments were made using the “alternative minimum tax,” a provision designed to prevent the wealthiest Americans from using tax loopholes to pay little or nothing. Trump’s tax reform proposal would eliminate the alternative tax; without it, he would have paid just $7 million in regular income tax and self-employment taxes after subtracting his $100 million in losses from his total income, The New York Times reported.

“Trump’s return shows that he’s pushing tax changes that benefit multimillionaire heirs like him, not the middle class,” Lily Batchelder, a tax law professor at New York University and former majority chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee told The Times. “His proposal to repeal the A.M.T. would have slashed his own tax burden by $31 million, and his income tax rate would be lower than the average rate paid by families earning $75,000 to $100,000.”

Americans need a fuller picture of the president’s finances, particularly since he has refused to insulate himself against potential conflicts of interest by putting his far-flung assets into a blind trust. Common Cause is among hundreds of organizations that have called on President Trump to release his tax returns and create a true blind trust.

You can add your name to our petition calling for a congressional inquiry into Trump’s potential conflicts of interest here.

Claiming he's under annual audits, Trump has refused to follow the example set by his recent predecessors by releasing his tax returns. He once suggested he would disclose the returns once audits are completed but since the election has indicated that he intends to keep them private permanently.

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Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Ethics

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