In 2016, Donald Trump paid Stephanie Clifford, the actress who starred in adult films under the name Stormy Daniels, $ 130,000 to keep silent about a sexual encounter. For the year, Trump paid a total of $ 750 in federal income tax. The following year, his first as president, his income tax was again $ 750. Those two years were unusual for Trump as he has typically not paid any income tax at all for the past decade. The New York Times, which in a Blockbuster report Based on documents on Trump’s taxes dating back two decades before 2018, it was found that Trump has not paid taxes in 11 out of 18 years. That is a remarkable feat for a suspected billionaire.
The Times The exposé shows that Trump pulled off the enviable trick of living like a king and paying taxes like a poor man. He did this through a complex shell game where taxes are collected on the profitable part of his financial empire (mostly his work as a reality show star) The Apprentice and some older real estate holdings) make lavish fortunes that will not be taxed as other businesses, particularly golf courses, regularly make large losses. But beyond this juggling game, Trump has also avoided taxes by taking measures that circumvent the boundaries of the law and require investigation, notably the practice of paying counseling fees to the three adult children (Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump) Pay also help manage the Trump organization. This proprietary trading comes with many questionable write-downs on personal expenses, including $ 70,000 for haircuts and more than $ 95,000 for a barber used by Ivanka Trump.
While this chicane keeps Trump afloat, this one is Times notes that its business empire is suffering from a heavy burden of debt that could overturn it. “In addition, the tax records show that, looking back at his collapse in the early 1990s, Mr. Trump did again what he regretted: he personally guaranteed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, a decision that prompted his lenders to agree.” Violence threatening him into personal bankruptcy.
“This time around, he is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $ 421 million, the majority of which is due within four years. Should he win re-election, his lenders could be put in an unprecedented position to consider whether to expel a seated president. ”
That $ 421 million only includes short-term debt that will mature over the next several years. Comment on Times Story, Dan Alexander, a reporter for Forbes, calculatedBased on the available public records, Trump has a total debt of $ 1.1 billion.
Trump’s sitting on a mountain of debt begs the troubling question: Who does the president belong to? As Sarah Longwell, editor of Conservative magazine The bulwark, argued“People focus on how little Trump paid in taxes, but for me, that’s the bigger story. He was heavily in debt and was looking for a way to revive his brand. So he ran for president. And since then he’s been a walking conflict of interest. “
Four years after the Trump presidency, many of his opponents are too exhausted to believe any new revelations can hurt him. After all, he’s in polls stuck to his 43 percent basDespite everything that has happened, from countless insulting statements to impeachment for Ukrainegate, to Covid-19, to the economic collapse.
However, there is reason to believe that a tax scandal could have a salutary political impact. Simply in terms of electoral politics, it helps Democrats have something that keeps the focus on Trump. Joe Biden has led the polls against Trump for over a year, an unprecedented dominance in the past few decades of presidential politics. Trump’s only hope is that arguments against Biden will drag the Democratic candidate down. As long as the focus of attention is on Trump’s misdeeds, that shift cannot take place. The tax scandal helps Biden run out of time in the final sprint of the election.
More importantly, the tax scandal is helping to undermine a myth that has been an integral part of Trump’s success: the false belief that he is a successful, self-made businessman. Write in Politico 2019 three political scientists from the University of Maryland (Jared McDonald, David Karol, Lilliana Mason) Survey conducted This showed “that voters are not simply not informed about President Trump’s biographical background, they are misinformed – and that misinformation has serious political consequences.” Too many Americans, including some Democrats, believed that Trump was “a homemade billionaire, a business tycoon of unfathomable success.” “Large parts of the public believe in the Trump myth,” their research found. “In three polls of electorate from 2016 to 2018, we found that half of all Americans did not know that they were born into a very wealthy family.”
However, these researchers offered hope to the Democrats, as there is evidence that the truth about Trump’s corporate history is changing the way voters think of him. Learning that Trump inherited his fortune has “a tangible and statistically significant impact on the valuation of Trump’s character. For Democrats, who already view Trump as non-empathetic, this information makes him even less empathic. But among Republicans, the information is even worse, reducing the perception of empathy by more than 10 percentage points. ”
There are enough political reasons for the Biden campaign to promote Trump’s tax corruption. However, this scandal clears up major issues beyond the presidential election. As Elizabeth Warren Remarks“This is about more than a man’s personal tax fraud. Donald Trump is a liar, a con and a crooked businessman, yes. But he also uses a broken, corrupt and unequal system designed for people like him to do that to do what he did. ”
As the old saying goes, the real scandal is usually what is legal. Trump may have crossed legal boundaries to avoid taxes. He should definitely be examined. But much of what he has done is standard practice for the American rich and completely lawful. This is an issue that requires more than one choice to correct. If Biden wins, he should put Warren in a position where she can help create a wealth tax.