On 01 October, the New York Times published an article based on Donald Trump’s 1995 Federal Income Tax return which shows that he paid no taxes in that year. Not only that, but since he claimed a $916 million loss in 1995, the ‘loss carryforward’ accounting principle may have allowed him to operate tax-free for up to 18 years thereafter. The $916 million loss was a result of mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
So what was Trump’s response to the NYT article? First, think back to the debate between Trump and Clinton last Monday night. When Ms. Clinton accused Trump of not paying a dime in federal income taxes, he smiled and said, “that makes me smart”. Then when the NYT article came out, the Trump campaign responded with a letter that reads in part:
“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes. Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”
Then, Trump supporter and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani praised Trump’s trickery, saying:
“My response is he’s a genius. Absolute genius. I mean, the man in ‘The Art of the Deal,’ this is described. First of all, we’re talking about 26 years ago, perfectly legal. We should get that straight immediately. This is a perfectly legal application of the tax code. And he would’ve been fool not to take advantage of it.”
(Perhaps Mr. Giuliani needs to go back to basic math class, because by my count, 1995 was only 21 years ago, but who ever said that Trump supporters were smart?)
Indeed, it was, based on what we know, perfectly legal. Does that make it okay? Does that make Trump the man we want to have steering our ship? Does that make Trump a savvy businessman? The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO! And just why is it not okay, albeit legal? Because, my friends, you and I paid our taxes, though our income was a miniscule particle compared to Trump’s. I have to ask, if he’s such a “highly-skilled” businessman, why did he lose $916 million in 1995? If he is such a successful businessman, why has he declared bankruptcy six times? Yes, he knows the tax code and he knows exactly how to use it to his own advantage.
And now let us imagine, for a moment, what if … what if nobody paid any federal income taxes? You Trump supporters out there, especially, need to think about this, as you are the ones crying the loudest about the current status quo. If nobody paid any income taxes ….
- There will be no military. Republicans are claiming we need to increase our military budget? Well guess what, guys? The military ceases to exist … there is no money to pay the servicemen nor to purchase or maintain equipment, supplies … nothing. No military.
- Veterans who bravely fought in WWII (a few still remain), Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan … will no longer receive benefits. VA hospitals will close for lack of funding, veterans will no longer receive their pensions nor healthcare. All that we promised them when they were bravely putting their lives on the line … gone.
- Schools (K-12) will lose their federal funding, which accounts for 10% – 15% of their total budget. In some states, that will mean no more school sports programs, pay cuts for teachers, lower quality learning tools such as books, and an increase in state taxes.
- College financial aid? A thing of the past! Dream on … unless you are among the financially elite (that famous 1%), forget college! 99% of the work force will now be blue collar workers. But wait, you say … how will we have doctors and lawyers in the future if nobody can afford college? We won’t, but no worries … you won’t be able to afford doctors and lawyers anyway.
- Bye-bye Congress, Supreme Court and President! Nope, no tax revenue to pay your salaries, let alone support your hefty travel budgets, or even have the Capital building cleaned daily! Sorry, it’s been nice … see you around.
- Those of you so worried about terrorism and the threat of a terrorist attack … start having your nightmares now, because there will be no federal law enforcement … no FBI, Homeland Security, NSA, or CIA. And while we’re on the subject … there will also be no Border Patrol, so immigrants can come and go as they please. Yes, all those rapists and murderers will now be able to stream across the border and take all your jobs! And forget about that fancy Trump-wall … no money to pay for it (contrary to what Trump has said, Mexico will not pay for the wall).
- Those of you who may be hoping for a cure for cancer, AIDS, Ebola, Hepatitis, Diabetes, or any number of other diseases … give it up. There will be no money to fund the research programs that might someday lead to cures and/or preventions for diseases. Life expectancy should become significantly lower, as infant mortality rates will climb. In fact, since there will also be no money available for federally funded healthcare programs, such as for the poor and the elderly, the population should decrease quite rapidly within the first year or two. Since the world is overpopulated, this could actually be a positive thing!
- Donald Trump says our infrastructure is a mess. Well, hold on to your hats, folks, because if nobody pays taxes, within five years most bridges and highway overpasses will crumble and fall. The interstate highway system will be so full of potholes that the speed limit would need to be about 25 mph. But wait, there will be no speed limit on interstate highways, as there will be no NTSB to determine safe speeds, nor Congress to pass the laws, so heck, just go as fast as you want. And I would also suggest you start stocking up on bottled water, because water systems will no longer be monitored and repaired.
I could go on and on in this vein, but I think you get the picture. Donald Trump claims he is “smart” for not paying any federal income taxes. I say he is a fool. The only person who has benefitted from his “smart-ness” is Donald Trump himself. Federal income taxes support many programs. Some we may not like very much, but let’s face it … without most of them, our lives would be drastically changed in ways that even my vivid imagination cannot grasp. So why is it “smart” for a man who claims to be “very rich” to stiff us all, while we continue going to work every day, and paying our fair share of taxes in order to keep our nation afloat? Think about it.