Taxes and Trump

Fernando Mendez | 3/16/2017, 10:17 a.m.
Taxes and Trump
Trump no mostró sus declaraciones de impuestos como tradicionalmente lo hacen los candidatos a presidente | Foto Cortesía

From the beginning of the presidential campaign Trump has had a problem with taxes. Telling us how much he makes and how much he pays is not a legal requirement for a president, but it is a tradition. One reason it was required in terms of a presidential campaign was to make sure that the donors list became public. And the reason for that is obvious, we don’t want to see the presidency turn into an opportunity for rich people to influence the president, to blackmail him or his administration by throwing lots of money at a campaign expecting something in return. But the personal taxes, well, that is another story. A president may choose not to reveal them because it is only a tradition. There are numerous articles declaring that it is a matter of putting the document on the historic record. Before Trump it had become an issue during the campaign of Barack Obama against Mitt Romney.

Romney had at one point released one year and one estimate and said that should suffice. Then, Obama pressured Hillary Clinton to do the same when she ran against him for the Democratic Party nomination. Both candidates released their tax returns and then John McCain followed suit on the GOP side. Over the years candidates from Steve Forbes to Ralph Nader have refused to release their tax statement. George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was the person who started this tradition when he released 12 years of tax returns. Since then, releasing tax returns is one way candidates show they have nothing to hide. The rich ones are often reluctant and the poor ones are proud to say that they have made no money serving the public. Bernie Sanders resealed only his income for 2014 but we can believe he has not become a rich man serving the public. Sarah Palin actually made more money from her fame after losing the election as McCain’s Veep. The fact that many candidates have voluntarily published their tax returns and others have refused with no dire consequences demonstrates that there is no legal requirement to do so, only a sense of duty to complete the historic record.

Now, back to Trump and his refusal to publish his tax returns in spite of having offered to do it many times under some conditions. Perhaps if he became the GOP candidate he would do it. But he did and thens he did not publish them. There were rumors all along that the main reason he doesn't want to publish his tax records is that he is not as rich as he claims because he has declared bankruptcy a few times. And then, the most persistent rumor is that he has not paid any taxes. About that he has said “That would make me smart.” And now there is one tax report that reveals that he paid 38 million in taxes in 2005. At this point the public has a right to know if he has any involvement with Russia and if anything shows up in his income statement. That would be transparent and might improve his image now when he seems to need it.

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