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Oct 03 2018

Who Needs Mueller?

That is, if the Corporatist Media would just do their job.

We knew Trump was incredibly corrupt. Turns out he may also be an epic tax cheat.
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
October 3 2018

“Only the little people pay taxes,” said a New York celebrity real estate figure in the 1980s. It was not Donald Trump but Leona Helmsley, who was eventually convicted of tax fraud and served time in prison. But they had a lot in common.

Last night, the New York Times published a blockbuster story on President Trump’s finances based on documents never made public before, including tax returns from his father, Fred Trump. The revelations are staggering.

They demonstrate that not only has Trump been lying for years about the enormous amount of money he was given by his father, but also Fred Trump, Donald Trump and Donald’s siblings were engaged in what amounted to a years-long conspiracy to commit tax fraud.

The Times’ story details a variety of schemes the Trumps used to avoid income taxes, gift taxes and, most critically, estate taxes. Together with his children — particularly Donald, his favored son — Fred Trump constructed a system that allowed him to pass a fortune of more than $1 billion on to his heirs while paying only a tiny fraction of the estate taxes that should have been paid. At the 55 percent rate at the time, Fred Trump’s estate should have owed at least $550 million but instead wound up paying only $52.2 million, or a mere 5 percent.

In addition, the newly revealed documents show that Trump’s claim that he built his company all on his own is a lie. “It has not been easy for me,” Trump said during the 2016 campaign. “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars, I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back, I had to pay him back with interest.” While we’ve long known this claim was false, the Times shows that in fact, Fred Trump gave Donald vast sums over the years in gifts, “loans” that charged no interest and that he was never expected to pay back, and other vehicles that amounted to the equivalent of $413 million in today’s money.

If we were to investigate a bunch of billionaire families, would we find that they’re up to similar machinations?

Shaviro (a professor at the New York University law school who is an expert in tax law) said the answer is no and described the schemes in the Times article as “beyond the pale.” The estate tax in particular, he said, is rife with opportunities for planning to avoid tax liability. If you’re a billionaire, there are plenty of legal ways to minimize your tax bill.

“Between the opportunities for tax planning and the risk of going to jail, why would you do this kind of thing if you’re Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos?” Shaviro said.

“Most of the people I know in the New York tax bar,” Shaviro went on, “if they were asked to participate in this, they would not only have declined to do it, but they would have wondered if they have a duty to report what’s going on” to the authorities so as not to be an accessory to a crime. Prominent tax lawyers “are not doing this stuff. They have reputations to protect. They’re not interested in going to jail.”

And that was before we even get to what Trump has done with his taxes. Which of course, we know only bits and pieces of, because unlike every president and presidential candidate in the past half-century, Trump has kept his tax returns secret.

Just imagine for a moment if a story like this one — detailing years of tax fraud — came out about Hillary Clinton. The Republicans who mounted seven separate Congressional investigations of Benghazi would be making it rain subpoenas. What are they planning to do about evidence that Trump has committed tax fraud — and the very real possibility that he still is? Not a thing.

In addition to his many other sterling qualities like bigot and molester Donald Trump is a proven liar, cheat, and thief.