World, Writing, Wealth discussion

58 views
Wealth & Economics > Trump: Taxes or Texas?

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments People seem to be outraged, when for a few days an articles like these circulate around the globe in different languages and media with the similar headline:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2...
Even if true, what's the big surprise?
Is it a big secret that many bills and mega-corporations employ tax lawyers and accountants to avoid taxation?
Many build morally questionable, but seemingly legal schemes, based on artificially constructed corporate chains in different jurisdictions, which allow to siffon off big money untaxed.
Most employees don't have this liberty or opportunity.
This entire thing (taxation avoidance, especially a legit one through delegitimising it) needs to be dealt with at the root!


message 2: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments That's a good one "Texas or Taxes" wordplay.


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Thanks, Mehreen -:)


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9737 comments I am in the strange position of being onside with Trump on this one. First, the issue of not paying tax. The reason is he had a monumental loss in one year. If you are taxed on profit, what do you do about a loss? Refund negative tax? Oh no, governments are never going to do that, but they do let you set those losses off against future profits, so that overall only real total profits are taxed. What is wrong with that? (I am assuming the losses are genuine.)

The next question is, how did this tax return make it into the public domain? In principle, only three groups see the return. Trump would not release that. That leaves this accountant(s) and the IRS. The IRS is forbidden by law to do that, so . . .?


message 5: by Matthew (last edited Oct 03, 2016 10:44PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "I am in the strange position of being onside with Trump on this one. First, the issue of not paying tax. The reason is he had a monumental loss in one year. If you are taxed on profit, what do you ..."

That's not what's at stake here. The issue here is that he's paid no taxes for the past two decades based on this one year where he CLAIMED losses of 1 billion. At worst, he lied to defraud the government and get out of paying taxes for 20 years. At best, it shows his incompetence as a businessman - which aside from personal attack, is his sole pitch in this election. And in both cases, it shows why Trump has been holding his taxes back and lying about it being due to an audit.

As for how it got out, my money is on hackers of the Anonymous variety. Trump is nothing if not hated by leftists and anarchists, especially those who are armed with digital weapons.


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9737 comments My comment was based on the assumption the claim was valid. If he lied, that would presumably land him in jail, but my guesses with a billion dollars claimed, the IRS would go over that with a tooth comb. As long as he hasn't lied, presumably he has been fully legal. I cannot blame anyone for making legitimate claims on his tax return.

On eof the items on this I saw was a photocopy of the tax return seemingly written on paper. That cannot be hacked. Otherwise, what was hacked? The IRS? Who keeps twenty-year-old tax returns on a computer? If they did, who could read the files?


message 7: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments I'm more with Trump on this one, but against the system that allows super-rich to avoid taxation. I'm not against carrying forward the losses for off-set against future profits, although, from what I know, in many jurisdictions it's limited to a few years. The problem when the 'losses shield' or any other tax shield is exhausted, many just look for another loophole for avoidance...

I recall DiCaprio in Aviator, when he's summoned to hearings in the Congress or something like that and he's asked about how the procurement procedure goes and describes it sleaziness. He claims that everybody does it, you are the Congress - change it!

Likewise here, I think the entire system of multiple loopholes, what's worse - available only to super-rich, should be changed, so that everyone would really pay in line with incomes/profit.

BTW, Matt, I wouldn't jump on the conclusion that losses or bankruptcy even, necessarily testify of someone as a lousy businessman. I personally know a few multi-millionaires with past bankruptcies on their record.. Their ability to resurrect in my opinion overshadows the past failures. Any business has inherent risk, which may be amplified by wrong business decisions, averted by good ones, or happen irrespective of business conduct. Not saying Trump is an excellent businessman, just - that losses of 20 years ago per se don't necessarily mean the opposite...


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9737 comments Nik, I fully agree on the loopholes. Genuine losses and cost should be deductible because you should be taxing on profits/income, not turnover. But some of the rorts pulled by some of the super wealthy are just ridiculous. However, in many cases you can't blame the businessman; the problem lies with the politicians that let this happen.
And losses do not mean incompetence. You can be just unlucky. Once upon a time I lost a lot when the government simply abandoned their contractual obligations and called it force majeure. There are somethings you cannot foresee. Further, we ask people to take risks. Risk means sometimes it does not work out, no matter how good you are.


message 9: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments That's pretty much my vision too...


message 10: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments This is another issue that we view differently in this election cycle than any other. We already know Trump had to file for bankruptcy protection several times in the past, so that "failure" aspect is nothing new about this. I'm not sure anyone's opinion on his business record changed only because of this one revelation. And we would have seen Mitt Romney sunk 4 years ago if we found out he gamed the tax system like this

But this time around, people are so sick of Washington and politicians in general, that this issue almost has a new spin to it no one ever considered before. 1995, Bill Clinton was President. There's a view that if this was such a problem, then why didn't Hillary's husband put a stop to it? He had five years to pressure Congress and after Gingrich imploded because of the shut-down, the President had quite a bit of political capitol. Part of Hillary Clinton's argument is that she's been in Washington/politics for 30 years and hence she's qualified to be president. But if that's so, and this unfair tax policy is the big deal she's making it out to be, then why did it take 30 years for her to say something about it and make it an issue?

It's that kind of thinking on the Republican side that led to the ouster of Boener and now the selection of Trump...all these politicians only make issues when it comes time for election season, and as soon as it's over, they go back to business-as-usual and forget the people who voted for them and the issues important to those people.


message 11: by John (new)

John Milton | 1 comments One of the major issues is that the people who benefit from the tax code being so screwed up all lobby in a major way for it to continue that way. Can you imagine what would happen if it was actually straightforward to
1. Accountants
2. Corporations benefiting
3. Tax Lawyers
4. The IRS
The little guys are the ones getting screwed. Every tax deduction has someone with a vested interest somewhere that objects if you get rid of it. In a lot of ways that is why I wish there were term limits. If you didn't have to worry about re-election you might actually be able to focus on doing what is right.


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments The opposition is huge, no doubt, as very powerful people benefit from the existing system.
Funny enough, that low/middle are shaking from IRS, when it embarks on chasing 13 dollars 24 cents of underpaid tax, while it might be trembling when dealing (is it?) with trillions of dollars sitting off-shore.
The more unpopular the existing system becomes, the harder it will be to support it, so I hope we can change things and, not even in the context of Trump, maybe it's a good thing that the issue skyrockets now


message 13: by Truant (new)

Truant Memphis (truant_memphis) | 3 comments A few things:

In my opinion, it is incorrect to lay tax evasion solely at the feet of loopholes in the tax system. I know if you give a human an inch, they are likely to take a mile. However, there are good people in this country who live up to their part of the bargain to reap the benefits our society can provide. Without taking/having time to research right now, my guess is Warren Buffet would be a good example of an extremely wealthy person that at least comes closer to paying a fair share than someone like Trump. I would guess Mark Cuban as well. I saw him on a show discussing his taxes once, and although he was lamenting the large number he had to pay, he paid it, and in the interview was not wildly complaining about paying his dues, just discussing the wide eyes with which the number he owed caught him by surprise. The problem with trickle down economic theory in general is not the concept, but the lack of accounting for the unfortunate, overwhelming reality of human nature on a large population scale: greed and selfishness. Looking out for number 1.

As a society, we want the government to solve all the problems like tax loopholes that people can use to cheat the system, but then stay out of our lives the rest of the time. The truth is, anyone in this country who makes less than $50,000 a year, about 70% of our workforce, should be absolutely disgusted by someone like Donald Trump that refuses to pay his fair share. He shows a billion dollar loss, but somehow manages to remain wealthy? Bankrupts multiple corporations and yet walks away, always he remains wealthy. I don't think that is business acumen, that is swindling. To a previous post, yes, you can simply be unlucky. However, a pattern of failure that still leaves the person responsible for the failure living and dining on Park Avenue, starts to smell like something other than bad luck.

If you are a common man, Donald Trump is not looking out for you. You can debate whether HRC is, but I'm not getting into that here. I am no fan of HRC either. I live in a red state and am voting my conscious: I will write in Woody Harrelson.

One of the major things that needs to change in this country, along with race relations and the wealthy not paying their fair share is the archaic Electoral College.

And to be clear - If I'm paying 20% (random percentage chosen for example) taxes making what I earn, I expect the same from a billionaire. I don't freaking care if their 20% looks ridiculously larger than mine. It's 20% you are paying back into the society that created the environment that provided you (or your father, or grandfather, or mother, etc.) the opportunity to become a billionaire in the first place. Just pay your freaking dues! I digress...

One more point (and thank you to anyone who took the time to read): I read in one of the previous posts about term limits I believe, and how we need them. Here's the thing, we as a voting populace can create term limits. Just vote people out of office! Even the people you like! As a society, we actually have the ability to do this. I understand why it doesn't happen. The general populace is under the thumb of debt, and family, and work, and where the hell are we going to find the time to organize and change our government? I get it. I'm in the same boat. But the opportunity is there. It just requires that the American people stop running their mouths and get to work. Get off the arse and do something about it. We literally just let politicians know through our vote that they are not going to get to sit in their seat for their entire adulthood milking the teat of the government.


message 14: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Read you post with interest, Truant, thanks for sharing your vision!
Don't know about personalities, especially who's a good taxpayer and who's less so, but I pretty much agree with most/all of your points.
Yeah, trickle-down may be based on a little more generous people, who won't attempt to stop the trickle at their layer -:)
I'm not sure we can change human nature, but we need to take it into account. In the context of avoidance (legal)/evasion (illegal), while the result is the same - non-paying of taxes, if you cancel the artificial difference between the two and make both illegal, I think many would think twice whether not to pay...
And certainly along with bona-fide cases, there are lots of swindling going on. Not even sure, what's more abundant..

Don't know much about Woody's political agenda, but ever since Natural Born Killer, he's one of the actors I like -:)


message 15: by Truant (new)

Truant Memphis (truant_memphis) | 3 comments Hi Nik,

Thanks for the response. With apologies, I didn't mean to imply that I don't fully support changes in our tax system. I was just focused on the idea of people giving Trump and others a pass on tax evasion because the government has somehow allowed loopholes. I have never been a fan of the "don't hate the player, hate the game" mentality. I hate them both :), if the player is a unabashed jerk.

I am 100% for federal tax reform as well, as I know the moral reform is not likely.


message 16: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "My comment was based on the assumption the claim was valid. If he lied, that would presumably land him in jail, but my guesses with a billion dollars claimed, the IRS would go over that with a toot..."

The IRS Is like any other government institution. They digitize old papers by scanning them and uploading them. I don't find it surprising at all that their database would contain twenty year old returns. In fact, I would be surprised if they were in the habit of destroying them, given that they might be necessary in the future for documenting fraud.

Other than that, I repeat what I say about this showing how Trump is a fraud. Assuming the return was legitimate - we have no reason to assume either way, really - it shows that Trump's main talking point (his success) has a gaping hole in it. His earnings for the past 20 years have been untaxed due to his past failures. This is not the mark of a "savvy man", its being rewarded for failure.


message 17: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Nik wrote: "I'm more with Trump on this one, but against the system that allows super-rich to avoid taxation. I'm not against carrying forward the losses for off-set against future profits, although, from what..."

Except that Trump has made his business performances the center point of his campaign. If he lost close to a billion dollars in one year, that shows he is anything but a savvy businessman. And one look at his record of business failures, which is long and winding, will certainly confirm this. Outside of the real estate empire he inherited, Trump's business ventures have all been monumental failures.

Also, this does not represent him coming back from bankruptcy,= nearly as much as it does Trump exploiting the tax code to turn his failures into a free ride that lasted for two decades. The man has boasted many times about he has exploited bankruptcy law and the banking system to avoid going into default and losing everything.


message 18: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm | 145 comments Matthew wrote: "Nik wrote: "I'm more with Trump on this one, but against the system that allows super-rich to avoid taxation. I'm not against carrying forward the losses for off-set against future profits, althoug..."

Absolutely agree, Matthew. Trump has made his business chops the central point of his campaign. Now we know why he never wanted his tax records released. They show he failed, and in a spectacular way. If his central theme of the campaign is that he will make America great again because he will run it as a business, I hope that doesn't mean running it like he has run his business.


message 19: by Matthew (last edited Oct 04, 2016 03:04PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Joanna wrote: "Matthew wrote: "Nik wrote: "I'm more with Trump on this one, but against the system that allows super-rich to avoid taxation. I'm not against carrying forward the losses for off-set against future ..."

Right??? His entire business philosophy has been about marketing himself. From Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks and Trump University to Trump Magazine, Trump Radio, Trump Mortgage and the Apprentice (all spectacular failures, btw) the entire selling point was that Donald is stinking rich and if you buy this crap, you'll be more like him!

I realized as he was "debating" with Hillary last week that this was what his entire presidential campaign has been about too. It's not about Mexicans, Muslims, the economy, foreign policy, or making "America great again". It's about Trump thinking he can sell the American people on giving him the keys to the kuingdom because of how much money he says he makes. As always, beneath that bluster is an insecure, petty failure who knows he was handed everything in life and deserves nothing.


message 20: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Also, since people are asking about the source, I just learned a few details. Apparently, the pages were sent in a sealed envelop to the NY Times, and the return address was Trump Tower. This could indicate that the source wasn't hackers at all, but someone close to Trump, or just someone who wanted to APPEAR as if they were close to Trump.


message 21: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Accountants would know better, but I'm not sure tax return or paper profits and losses is a good indicator to evaluate someone's business success or failure. For all I know, sometimes it is required to reflect the current value of your real estate in the returns, while it has no practical meaning unless you sell it.
I've no idea whether Trump is a brilliant businessman. May well be that he isn't.

I am afraid though that he's hardly outstanding from many other Bills and it's about time to use the public spotlight on the avoidance phenomenon in general -:)


message 22: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments Truant wrote: "Warren Buffet would be a good example of an extremely wealthy person that at least comes closer to paying a fair share than someone like Trump..."

Buffet admitted recently that he pays less than his secretary when he argued that the rich should be paying more.

But the tax argument is almost a paper tiger meant to distract from out of control spending. End of the day, we don't need to be collecting more taxes, we need to cut the spending. Every corner of the government spends whatever they get not because they need it, but because they want it. When Congress and the President couldn't agree on a budget a few years ago, the forced the Sequestration on themselves, cutting budgets across all departments of the government. Ever since the first cuts went into effect, everyone in government, including Congress and the President, complained about the cuts and how they're hurting the government. But in reality, all these departments are adapting, even the Military, and the government is not shutting down because they're not spending enough money.

We don't need to raise anyone's taxes, what we need to do is reign in the government even more and force them to do their jobs with an even more reasonable budget.


message 23: by Matthew (last edited Oct 05, 2016 07:56PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Nik wrote: "Accountants would know better, but I'm not sure tax return or paper profits and losses is a good indicator to evaluate someone's business success or failure. For all I know, sometimes it is require..."

I think in this case it totally is. He reported losses totaling 1 billion in one year. He's made 45 million between 1995 and 2009, and between that and his earnings since then, he's not even close to making those losses back. The man claims he's a business genius. But this shows otherwise, which is why he kept it private. As always, he's not nearly as rich as he claims to be.


message 24: by Nik (last edited Oct 06, 2016 02:58AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Matthew wrote: "As always, he's not nearly as rich as he claims to be...."

Can be
Forbes stubbornly estimates his wealth at 3.7 bil..
http://www.forbes.com/profile/donald-...


message 25: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Nik wrote: "Matthew wrote: "As always, he's not nearly as rich as he claims to be...."

Can be
Forbes stubbornly estimates his wealth at 3.7 bil..
http://www.forbes.com/profile/donald-..."


True, and that's down considerably from the 1990s. He's no longer in the top 25 or the top 100, which is a significant drop for him. And it's also far less than he's claimed he's worth, which he has said fluctuates based on his mood.


message 26: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Matthew wrote: "he's worth, which he has said fluctuates based on his mood. ..."

If I could fluctuate my wealth this way, I'd try to be in a good mood, always -:)


message 27: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Nik wrote: "Matthew wrote: "he's worth, which he has said fluctuates based on his mood. ..."

If I could fluctuate my wealth this way, I'd try to be in a good mood, always -:)"


Oh, me too! What would you do if you were valued at several billion dollars? I can think of a few things, but the first thing I would do is write some fat-ass checks for charitable causes, invest in green technology, and then buy all my friends some expensive toys! :)


message 28: by Truant (new)

Truant Memphis (truant_memphis) | 3 comments J.J. wrote: "Truant wrote: "Warren Buffet would be a good example of an extremely wealthy person that at least comes closer to paying a fair share than someone like Trump..."

Buffet admitted recently that he p..."


Actually, I'm pretty sure he was talking about tax rate, or percentage, not the actual $ amount he paid. And he may be a bad example. But he also "supposedly" believes the highest wage earners in this country should be paying more in taxes rather than evading them: "Buffett has been advocating for a minimum tax on top wage earners -- those like himself who benefit from the fact that capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than regular earnings. His proposal, popularly known as the Buffett rule, has the support of the Obama administration but is strongly opposed by Republicans in Congress." That's from CNN's website: http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/04/news/...

I don't advocate raising taxes so much as fixing the system so that the wealthiest in this country pay their fair share. The more you earn, the more opportunity you have to game the current system and not pay back into your society. Or, if the uber wealthy would behave more altruistically and not try to hide all of their money, maybe things might be fine with the current system.

Going to have to agree to disagree on the tax argument being a paper tiger. To me, it is a legitimate issue. Getting into how the government spends our money, that's a whole different discussion.


message 29: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments Agree about fixing the tax system...It should be as simple as laying out the rates without allowing any deductions. Not only will you get the rich paying their 35% or whatever the politicians want it to be without the shenanigans, but you also simplify filling, so the middle class doesn't need to retain a tax expert just to file every year.

Problem is, we have so many deductions that each one is popular with key groups. And it would be political suicide to even suggest their elimination for the sake of simplification.


message 30: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments Ok, as the tax reform is unveiled, undoubtedly if and when adopted will influence the entire global economy, we might as well return to this thread under a different sauce though...

15% instead of 35% corporate tax? That's a big incentive to corporations, but how about bringing home and paying tax from trillions of undistributed profits?
If that's not drastic, what is? And so are some other stipulations.
That's truly ambitious, but requires a little more perusal: whether it's implementable, who benefits and who doesn't and what impact it might have on the economy.

What do you think?


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9737 comments What I think about the corporate tax was included in yesterday's blog post, which should be available on Goodreads. Basically, leaving aside the issue of corporations hoarding, it should not matter, because the same tax will be obtained, more or less, just in different ways. Hoarding, however, has to be discouraged, as well as perks for the bosses.

The real problem, as I see it, is the reduction in personal taxes, because that does create a big fiscal hole, and worse, the way Trump looks like he going to do it, it increases inequality, although we still have to see the details.


message 32: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments With 20 trillion in debt, we should think about paying some of that down before we think about cutting taxes. I see the argument that lowering the rates will bring companies back to the States, but the problem is, when the tax revenue returns to the current levels due to the new companies and the added jobs expected, a) the money will be spent instead of used to reduce the debt, and b) Republicans will want to cut taxes again. I get Obama ran up much of that debt to get the country through the recession, but now that we're back to normal employment, we should accept the pain of paying it down, and then cut taxes.


message 33: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13758 comments The tax reform is one thing accomplished by Trump's administration, and if successful, should be one of the major arguments for re-election.
That's some summery that I found on the internet and cannot vouch for its accuracy:
https://www.thebalance.com/trump-s-ta...
But it's far better to hear the voices from the ground -:)
So, how does the tax reform, if at all, influence YOU?


message 34: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments Because the standard deduction was greatly increased, and because they kept deductions for things like mortgage interest and state taxes up to a point, most people are seeing their taxes go down. Most of the people seeing increases are the wealthy and those at the higher end of middle-class in high-tax states.

Because it's been hard to find working-class people who actually saw their taxes go up, the media around here chose to focus on those people who ended up owing money on Tax Day when they used to receive refunds in the past. In these cases, it came as a result of having less money withheld from their paychecks. They took home more pay through the year, but ended up owing because they didn't pay enough before hand. Even in these cases, the overall tax bill was still less than before, they just had the misfortune of not paying enough weekly.


message 35: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5516 comments My taxes did't increase, so I'm not complaining.


back to top