By Chuck Collins
My daughter, a librarian in Tucson, paid more taxes in 2017 than Donald Trump. So did my neighbor Rita, a teacher, and her son Tony, who stocks grocery shelves in Leland, Michigan
I also pay more in taxes than the president of the United States. And, probably, so do you.
We now understand why Trump was the first presidential candidate since the 1970s not to divulge his tax returns.
In 2016 and 2017, the billionaire paid just $750 each year in taxes to the U.S. Treasury. In 10 out of 15 years between 2001 and 2017, Trump paid zero taxes.
The average middle class household paid approximately three times as much in federal taxes as Trump did in 2017, an average of $2,200 based on an income of roughly $60,000. Any individual earning over $25,000 most likely paid more than the president.
It’s not that Trump wasn’t paying taxes at all. In 2017, Trump paid $156,824 in taxes in the Philippines and $145,500 in India. He just wasn’t paying them to support veterans, build roads, or protect seniors in this country.
The other secret Trump doesn’t want you to know is that his image as a wealthy successful business mogul is a mirage.
Over the decades, Trump personally lobbied Forbes Magazine to report that he was wealthier than he really is. Two decades of tax returns, however, reveal he is a man in deep financial doo-doo. He may even owe more than he owns.
Trump’s real estate and resort businesses are mostly money losers, contributing to hundreds of millions of tax-deductible business losses each year.
On top of these losses, Trump deducts tens of millions in lavish personal living expenses — such as $70,000 in hair styling, consulting fees to his children, and mansion retreats — to reduce his tax obligations.
Only someone with Trump’s army of tax attorneys and wealth managers could pull off these loopholes. Trump’s assets are spread over 500 different corporate shells, enabling limitless shifting and gaming of income and taxes.
Trump takes advantage of the fact that there are two tax systems in America: one set of rules for the super-rich and another set of rules for everyone else.
Most of us get our incomes from paychecks and government agencies that know exactly how much we are paid and often withhold our taxes before we even see the money.
Wealthy people with incomes over $2 million and assets over $20 million get most of their income from investments, ownership of assets, and businesses. There are endless games they can play to manipulate their income. And they can afford to hire accountants and tax lawyers to maneuver their taxes downward.
If you lose money, you grow poorer. But when the super-rich create paper losses to offset their taxes, they’re still rich. And like Trump, they aren’t sacrificing anything in terms of their cushy standard of living.
These tax shenanigans are all the more unseemly in the face of a pandemic that’s destroyed the wealth, health, and livelihoods of millions. Tens of millions of families have lost jobs, savings, home equity, and any other economic security they may have had.
They will not be “carrying over” these losses into future years and virtually eliminating their taxes for a decade, as Trump did.
Instead, they’ll pay income taxes on unemployment insurance, stimulus checks, and any paycheck they’ve been able to eke out. There will be no deductions for haircuts or consulting contracts for their children.
Trump’s taxes reveal the real truth. He’s more about the art of the deduction than the art of the deal.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Trump’s tax manipulations reveal where the weak spots are in the current system. Congress should restore fairness and integrity to a tax system that has been pillaged by the super-rich.
Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Can’t have it both ways. He is either poor or he didn’t pay taxes. Which one? None of you know how a person with billions in business goes about paying taxes with an army of accountants. Another hit piece. Keep trying, he won and is president. Get over it.
Donald J Trump paid the taxes that were legal and afforded by the IRS and their regulations. Why does it only show $750? Well its because he is smarter than you are.
Bill C says
If a billionaire only pays $750 in taxes because he is “smart”, then that makes everyone else who pays more DUMB. All the rest of us must pay more to make up the shortfall. You are arguing for a tax increase on yourself. Don’t be a sucker. Wake up.
Gary R says
Well if you can figure out how not to pay taxes and not go to jail for it then you probably are pretty smart. And, how much tax has Hunter paid?
Can we see the proof of this please? I would like to see a copy of his tax returns that you have obtained, because as far as I’m concerned, he paid a heck of a lot more than you Liberals are saying he paid. Your hatred toward a person is disgusting, s why don’t you start reporting facts instead of lies? You Liberals are all about putting fear into the people and trying to make them believe your lies so this Country can turn into another Russia or China; no thank you.
New York State Attorney General is looking into Trump’s financial manipulations; he over-values Assets for financial presentations and under-values them for Tax purposes. At his Golf course in Briarcliff NY he paid $6,000,000 for a Waterfall and his Attorneys want to gave Course valued at $1,400,000 for property taxes.
Look into how much he owes and to whom [$400,000,000] (Turkey, India, and Russia)
Gary R says
Are Presidential Candidates Legally Required To Release Their Tax Returns? Answer NO.
We’ve all known for years that the wealthy have accountants and lawyers who manipulate their taxes so they pay as little as possible in taxes using a common method of moving money into off shore accounts, etc. But Trump has taken it further by making “fake” foundations and then funneling money to his relatives under false pretenses and using loopholes such as labeling his payments to relatives as “consulting fees”, and other such illegal acts. What he is doing is basically money laundering, a basic tactic of the mob bosses. That is why New York is going after him and bravo that they have the fortitude to expose and prosecute him for his crimes. Why do you think he is now declaring Florida to be his legal residence? Because he knows first of all that his buddy Ron Desantis will try everything he can to prevent his extradition to New York for prosecution. Also the state of Florida has very liberal laws that favor the wealthy. In lieu of that working, he could jump around from country to country staying at one of the properties owned by one of his international holdings or under the name of one of his relatives. You can’t tell me that he hasn’nt already researched which countries he wouldn’t be extradited from. Face it, the wealthy live with a whole different of rules than the vast majority of American citizens do. That is why the Congress must close all the tax loop holes and make the wealthy actually pay a fair amount of taxes, like the rest of us do. But the Republicans use the battle cry that “taxes will get raised” if Democrats get elected. Well, what that means is that the wealthy will have to pay more in taxes. But many uninformed people hear only that “tax” battle cry and vote based on false information. A typical Republican ploy. Look, any intelligent informed person knows that Trump is as corrupt as they come. After all, his entire family wealth was derived from his father, who was a major slum lord in New York who used typical mob tactics to rob and defraud the government to avoid paying taxes, not to mention the outright despicable disregard for other people and the impact their actions have on others. He learned his lessons at his master’s knee. So why are people surprised and or try to keep refusing to accept the truth about the sham and travesty that afflicts the average American through the illegal behavior of the super wealthy. It all boils down to either ignorance about the the tax laws, and ignorance about how the wealthy shield their income from actually being taxed like the rest of us who work hard and pay what we are required to. That is why we absolutely need tax reform and to require the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes and prosecute those who engage in illegal activities to launder and hide assets behind sham “foundations” and fake shell “companies”. Wake up people and educate yourself about what is REALLY going on in this country and has been for years and years. This dogged support of a blatant criminal is disgusting. That is why educated and informed people are fed up with the wanton disregard of others displayed by this president and his buddies. Please don’t be suckered into believing what the lies and manure spewing out of the mouth of a known criminal. Why do you think he will refuse to accept the results of the election if defeated? To avoid criminal prosecution after he leaves office because he believes that a sitting president can’t be prosecuted, duh! Please wake up and do the right thing and VOTE as if your life depends on it, because it does!!
Ralph Venuti says
The only fair tax system is a flat tax that all would pay, say 15% on all income (or what ever the percentage is , which would be less the most people pay now). Everybody does or would take all legal steps necessary to reduce what they pay the government that they have no control over how they spend your money . Congress are the ones that decide on how our money is spent, do most of them seem rational ? They are career politicians that cry they make under $200,000 a year, but most wind up millionaires with government pensions and free medical for life (Medical coverage you wish you had even if you could afford it) Sorry for getting off track this is an article on president Trump, not a career politician , Love that Guy.
Get over it. No one pays more taxes than they have too. Blame the congress for making these tax friendly deductions. Many billion dollar corporations pay nothing and get millions in tax refunds. That’s why there are big dollar tax attorneys.
I can assure you we all paid more taxes than all the members of Congress and every wealthy person in this country. They know the legal loop holes and have high paid accountants to act on them. All I can say, is Vote.
Mike Cocchiola says
I am happy to pay 20 times more in income taxes than Trump. I am supporting our law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, military, roads, bridges, wildlife refuges, government operations and, yes, those around the country and the world that are less fortunate than I.
I’m an American. We are a country, not a business. We all pay something so we all get something we could not otherwise have as individual. I don’t pay because it’s the law. I pay because it’s the right thing to do.
LOL your NOT happy to pay more then YOU are legally required to pay. That is what Trump has done. Payed what is legally required.
Yeah, so he paid a lot of money to extremely smart accountants and took advantage of the rules as written? He’s a smart business man. He don’t need your money, you can’t buy him, and donates his salary to charity every year.
Just sayin says
He is smarter than us. We all paid for the Russia hoax claim, with them( muller team)knowing the outcome when they started the investigation. Good job Trump. the suckers and losers paid for this hoax the DNC,CIA and FBI created.
I agree. . . a FLAT TAX with ZERO deductions and loopholes is certainly the way to go.
Unless and until that happens, our country is in MASSIVE DEBT people! ALL BILLIONAIRES who pay as little as possible are leaving US SUCKERS to pay that debt. Just how hard is that to understand?
Meanwhile, the “CULT” continues to defend trump no matter what despicable thing he does. Just how “SICK” is that?
The Golden Rule= GONE
Doing the “Right Thing”= GONE