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Guest column: Trump’s taxes don’t matter


Reuben Durham

The New York Times revealed it had obtained President Trump’s tax records through 2017, on Sept. 27. While they cannot reveal the actual documents without potentially revealing who leaked them, the Times published every potentially scandalous detail they uncovered in a lengthy article.

During President Trump’s 2016 campaign, when it became increasingly apparent that Trump had no intention of releasing his tax returns, there were two clear options as to why. Either the returns contained proof of illegal activities — including collusion — or the amount of taxes Trump was able to avoid was embarrassingly high. As an entertainer, Trump’s greatest asset is his image, which he needed to keep as clean as possible on his path to the White House.

Excluding the potential bending of the rules, which is under audit, the tax returns do not contain any evidence of Russian collusion or any other illegal activities. This is why most people wanted to see the returns. Instead, The Times published a story of legal tax avoidance, something everyone trying to save money participates in. $750 or $0 seems like a surprisingly low amount of taxes for someone as wealthy as Trump to pay, but Trump is in the perfect position to get his taxes credited and deducted. Added up, the historic properties he claims to preserve, the money he loses when he makes a poor business gamble, the money he spends on his image and the amount of taxes he pays in other countries cover virtually all of his taxes.

Though embarrassing, tax avoidance is commonplace for the rich like Trump. It’s why the “one percent” can support politicians calling to raise taxes on the wealthy without worrying about much of an increase in taxes themselves. Even the politicians themselves use loopholes. Vice President Joe Biden avoided $500,000 in taxes from one loophole alone in 2018. It’s no surprise Trump paid for the best deal on his taxes. 

Another thing we learn from the returns, is how much debt Trump has and how much money he has been losing in his properties. This also fits what we know about his character. Trump has broken with many Republicans on spending, choosing to gamble even more money into the national debt to increase the GDP. Even when he announced his campaign, Trump gambled his public approval and some of his sources of income for a shot at renovating the United States. 

On closer examination, this story is not as historically significant as it at first appears. Of course, those who follow the election closely will not be affected by this story. Most obstinate Republicans will brush the story off as “fake news,” and most obstinate Democrats will add snippets of the headlines to their arsenal of anti-Trump mantras. This is true with all news stories about the president.

What truly matters, however, is how the independent voters will see this story, and I think this story perfectly fits the image those voters already have of Trump — how they vote will not be determined by this latest revelation.

Reuben Durham is an LU sophomore from Temple

Category: Opinion