People Are Missing the Point on Trump’s Tax Returns
The New York Times on Sunday caused a stir with their report on President Donald Trump’s tax liability, or lack thereof. The analysis notes that Trump, whose net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion, “paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years,” and paid only $750 in both 2016 and 2017.
The story will likely come up during tonight’s presidential debate, and the consensus among the media and liberals broadly is that this is yet more evidence of Trump’s sketchy behavior. But focusing on Trump’s approach to reducing the amount he owes in taxes misses the larger point, which is that Trump’s returns are merely a symptom of a complex tax system that incentivizes filers to sniff out every legal strategy for reducing their tax burdens.
For context, let’s begin with Trump’s business model, which goes something like this: Launch several businesses, many of which hemorrhage millions of dollars each year, and use the publicity from those businesses to make money on personal branding. The latter is highly profitable, earning Trump $427.4 million between 2004-2018. The losses from the former—his hotels and resorts for instance—are then used to largely offset his tax liability.
The Times’ report does erode the savvy businessman brand Trump has sought to cultivate for himself, both commercially and as a candidate for office. The president is not necessarily the astute entrepreneur he claims to be, though he may be uniquely skilled at making money by wasting money. His most high-profile business successes—his golf courses—have reportedly lost $315 million since 2000. The Trump International Hotel in Wash
Article from Latest – Reason.com