In the interest of fairness, I will be the first one to tell you that yes, I think Donald Trump should release his tax returns. If you have nothing to hide, those returns need to be released for public scrutiny. I will also be the first one to say that attacking Mr. Trump on a few pages of a 20 year old tax return leaked this weekend to the New York Times is wrong. The pages leaked showed something around a $915 million dollar loss that experts say might have allowed him to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years or so. If the information we have is correct, and I stress “if” then Donald Trump did nothing wrong or illegal in terms of his tax returns. It may be politically embarrassing but not illegal.
forward provision in the tax code is helpful for small businesses that might struggle after a project does not turn out as planned and they work to recoup those losses. The provision was not designed for billionaires to avoid paying taxes, especially since the loss carry forward was part of a massive bail out of Trump and his Atlantic City venture and his airline that was bleeding money. By all accounts, Trump should have had to declare personal bankruptcy at the time but the banks propped him up for their benefit, not his.
Anyway, I see this leak of the one page of the tax return as a classic mis-direct designed to focus attention on what happened 20 years ago instead of what is happening now. According to tax experts, the loss carry forward would have expired by now and we wonder if Mr. Trump paid income taxes on the $600 million plus he claimed on his FEC filing for the money he made last year or if his high powered accountants found other loopholes to offset that income. Perhaps time will tell but time is running out.