Hypocrisy over Trump’s taxes

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Cal Thomas Cal Thomas is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

What would you think of an in­di­vid­ual or a com­pany that earned a pre­tax profit of $29.9 mil­lion in one year, paid noth­ing in taxes and still re­ceived a $3.5 mil­lion re­fund?

Am I speak­ing of Don­ald Trump? No, it is The New York Times Co. Forbes mag­a­zine stud­ied the news­pa­per’s 2014 an­nual re­port, in which the com­pany ex­plained: “The ef­fec­tive tax rate for 2014 was fa­vor­ably af­fected by ap­prox­i­mately $21.1 mil­lion for the re­ver­sal of re­serves for un­cer­tain tax po­si­tions due to the lapse of ap­pli­ca­ble statutes of lim­i­ta­tions.”

In other words the Times took ad­van­tage of tax laws that only good tax at­tor­neys un­der­stand and in do­ing so was no dif­fer­ent than Don­ald Trump. The Times, which ob­tained Trump’s sup­pos­edly con­fi­den­tial tax re­turns, made a big deal out of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s use of loop­holes to avoid pay­ing taxes.

Democrats are try­ing to make this part of their “fair share” sce­nario when, in fact, they are mak­ing the ar­gu­ment Repub­li­cans have been mak­ing for years for tax re­form, which Trump has promised to do if he’s elected pres­i­dent.

The fed­eral govern­ment is tak­ing in record amounts of tax rev­enue, but is ap­proach­ing a $20 tril­lion debt. The prob­lem, noted Ron­ald Rea­gan, is not that the Amer­i­can peo­ple are taxed too lit­tle, but that their govern­ment spends too much.

No one is say­ing that Trump’s de­duc­tions were il­le­gal, but that doesn’t mat­ter to Democrats. As a Wall Street Jour­nal ed­i­to­rial noted on Mon­day, “The left is com­mit­ted to de­feat­ing Mr. Trump by what­ever means pos­si­ble, as many be­lieve this end jus­ti­fies any means, much as pro­gres­sives have jus­ti­fied the Edward Snowden leaks de­spite the dam­age to na­tional se­cu­rity.”

Leak­ing sealed or pri­vate doc­u­ments is not a new strat­egy for Democrats. When Barack Obama was a can­di­date in the Demo­cratic Sen­ate pri­mary in Illi­nois, the sealed di­vorce pa­pers of his op­po­nent, Jack Ryan, were shame­lessly used to help de­feat the “fam­ily val­ues” Repub­li­can. Had that dirty trick not been used, Obama might never have been a sen­a­tor, much less pres­i­dent.

Does any­one ex­pect an IRS or Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion into who leaked Trump’s tax records? Un­likely. FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey’s re­fusal to rec­om­mend pros­e­cu­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton for her de­lib­er­ate mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion seems to prove that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is lit­tle more than an arm of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

The left’s nar­ra­tive — stated and im­plied — is that ev­ery­thing govern­ment does is good, and so it is only right that tax­pay­ers pay in­creas­ing amounts of taxes no mat­ter how ir­re­spon­si­ble govern­ment is in spend­ing them. In this think­ing, govern­ment has re­placed God and taxes have re­placed the col­lec­tion plate, which at least amasses vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions.

Politi­cians mostly like the tax code the way it is be­cause they can tweak it in ex­change for cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions from lobbyists. For the rest of us, the tax code is a for­eign language im­pos­si­ble for most to un­der­stand. Even the IRS doesn’t fully un­der­stand it. If you call the IRS for ad­vice and the ad­vice they give you is wrong, you can still be sub­ject to penal­ties and in­ter­est.

Repub­li­cans in high tax states and at the fed­eral level should use the left’s “smok­ing gun” on Trump’s taxes as a weapon to de­mand tax re­form. Flat and fair taxes have been sug­gested. Any­thing is bet­ter than the cur­rent sys­tem. Real tax re­form would en­sure that Trump paid some taxes, though they would likely be lower for him than for ev­ery­one else who pays them.

Af­ter that, maybe the con­ver­sa­tion can shift to the real prob­lem: govern­ment spend­ing.

“No one is say­ing that Trump’s de­duc­tions were il­le­gal, but that doesn’t mat­ter to Democrats.”

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