How big a tax cut for Trump?

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION - T Pres­i­dent Trump’s

Ain­sis­tence, con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans are propos­ing some­thing un­prece­dented: a spe­cial, lower tax bracket for part­ner­ships, con­trac­tors and other “pass-through” busi­nesses. And they’re do­ing so with only the vaguest of ideas how the pro­posal will af­fect the coun­try’s most fa­mous pass-through busi­ness owner: Don­ald Trump.

That’s be­cause Trump has dis­closed his hold­ings but not his tax re­turns. Al­though we know he has a stake in hun­dreds of passthrough busi­nesses through the Don­ald J. Trump Re­vo­ca­ble Trust, we don’t know how those busi­nesses are or­ga­nized for tax pur­poses, or what tech­niques the com­pa­nies might be us­ing to min­i­mize their taxes — and Trump’s. So it’s im­pos­si­ble to tell ex­actly how much more or less in taxes he’d have to pay un­der the plans be­ing pro­posed in Congress.

Ac­tu­ally, we know enough to say that he wouldn’t have to pay more. Trump de­clared that he’d be a “big loser” un­der the mea­sure — that is, be­fore he called on law­mak­ers to cut the top in­di­vid­ual tax rate from 39.5% to 35%. But that’s al­most cer­tainly false. Congress’ own analysis of the tax bill’s ef­fects shows that it would de­liver the big­gest ben­e­fits to those on the pent­house floor of the U.S. econ­omy.

But cre­at­ing a lower top rate for passthrough busi­nesses could pro­vide an even big­ger boost to Trump than the bill’s other perks for the wealthy, such as the elim­i­na­tion of the al­ter­na­tive min­i­mum tax. The pass-through pro­vi­sion would slash the taxes he pays on at least a por­tion, and po­ten­tially most, of his in­come to 25%.

As the first bil­lion­aire to oc­cupy the Oval Of­fice, Trump will have an outsize per­sonal stake in any ma­jor tax bill. Yet he has doggedly and ar­ro­gantly re­fused to re­lease his tax re­turns, break­ing with decades of pres­i­den­tial prac­tice. The fact that the ad­min­is­tra­tion helped GOP law­mak­ers craft a tax pro­posal that’s par­tic­u­larly at­tuned to Trump’s hold­ings makes it im­per­a­tive that the pres­i­dent re­lease his re­turns. Amer­i­cans need to know whether he’s act­ing in his in­ter­ests or theirs.

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