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OPINION: Well-Played, New York Times…Well-Played…

OPINION: Well-Played, New York Times…Well-Played…

Just in time for the first presidential debate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporting team launched a series of damning investigatory pieces on President Trump’s alleged history of underpaying his taxes and even — there’s no gentler way to put it — committing outright tax fraud. 

According to the NYT, for at least two decades, the President of the United States and Leader of the Free World, escaped paying his fair share of taxes, leaving the “heavy lifting” to the American people that Trump claims to love so much. How is that patriotic?

It boggles the mind to consider the army of reporters, accountants, attorneys, and tax specialists that the NYT brought onboard to wade through a sea of documents to discover that:

  • The president had such monumental business losses that he was able to ditch his tax bill by paying $0 dollars for years.
  • When Trump became president in 2016 and into 2017, he paid a minuscule $750.00 in federal income tax. 
  • By claiming massive business failures, not only was the president able to avoid paying his fair share of taxes, but he finagled a $72 million tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to boot. If an audit finds Trump guilty, he may have to repay almost $100 million including accrued penalties.
  • Part of Trump’s genius is the “Art of the Write-off” with the president getting deductions for unusual expenditures, including the upkeep of his hair to the tune of $70,000 a year. 
  • Trump designated funds for personal use and financial gifts to his children as “consulting fees.” In this way, the president was able to sidestep paying gift taxes.
  • Trump is due to pay the equivalent of the biggest balloon payment in the universe when his various loans totaling over $421 million come due in 2022.

And the hits just keep on coming. One thing to note is that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, may have lied to a Senate committee hearing about Trump’s business dealings in Moscow; but Cohen was spot on about the president’s shady real estate practices leading to undervaluing assets to escape paying large tax bills. 

For a president who’s always screaming about “national security,” his loans from dictators in the Philippines, Turkey, and connections with Russian oligarchs with questionable allegiances to the Russian mob, reveal Trump as a walking and talking conflict of interest. How can America negotiate in good faith over political oppression and financial racketeering in these countries when the president appears to be entangled in dark money deals? Talk about being a national security risk.

Back at home, without having to show his bonafides (read tax returns) as a law-abiding American citizen who pays his fair share to keep the country safe and stable, it blows that one of Trump’s signature acts was to reduce taxes for the elites while everybody else staggers under the weight of Doing the Right Thing. 

This reality TV show host turned president, who skipped out on his obligations to pay tradespeople who worked on his Atlantic City casinos as well as dashing the hopes of ordinary citizens ripped off in his fake real estate schools; has left Americans on the hook for trillions of dollars of debt. Plus, trying to clean up the economic mess of the coronavirus, Trump’s policies risk decimating the future of Social Security. 

If all that weren’t bad enough, Trump shows in stark black and white that in today’s America, being White, rich, and male can take you to the Promised Land. You don’t pay taxes. You won’t go to prison. You won’t suffer a miserable death from a pandemic or a police officer’s boot on your neck because privilege buys great insurance, a get-out-of-jail-free card and a tax-free life.

And, what of the Republican response to the Times’ bombshell expose? Crickets. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. 

As Americans go to the polls or send in their absentee ballots, minds are mostly made up about whether Biden or Trump is the best choice for America. Trump’s cultish followers will remain unshaken in their support because we all know you should never wake a sleep walker. It could kill them. But, despite Team Trump’s attempts to deflect and reset the narrative, the Times’ piece is damaging stuff. 

The only thing that Trump can do now to stop the bleeding, is to release his own tax documents. But, with his penchant for lying, who would take them seriously? With hundreds of thousands of dead Americans missing from holiday tables this year, millions of unemployed at risk of evictions, seniors unable to kiss their grands and fatigued from the constant work of trying to wait out the coronavirus; Trump’s comedown Karma is worth waiting for.

Image Credit: Katie Harp/Unsplash

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I love telling, reading, and writing stories. I freelance as a writer, editor, and all-around trouble-maker. I live in Atlanta with my dogs, Jaco, and Trane.

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