Tag Archives: Trump tax returns

Tax returns? Give ’em up, Mr. POTUS

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has the law on his side, or so it would appear.

The Massachusetts Democrat is using his power as a congressional committee chairman to get his hands on Donald Trump’s tax returns. He is citing a statute that requires the Internal Revenue Service to hand over any request that comes from Congress.

The president’s lawyers say the chairman is overstepping his bounds.

C’mon. Let’s settle this thing.

Turn them over

Donald Trump has pledged to turn over the returns once the IRS completed a “routine audit.” That audit was under way in 2015. It takes three years to conduct a routine audit? I do no think so, no matter how “big” the numbers are that Trump has suggested.

It has been matter of political custom — not the law — for presidents to release their tax returns, to open them up for public review. The custom began in 1976 after the Watergate scandal had driven President Nixon from office.

We needed to know then — and we do today — how our presidents earn their income, to whom they might be indebted, and whether they are paying their fair share of taxes. They are, after all, demanding — along with Congress — that the rest of us pay our fair share.

I’m going to set aside for the purposes of this post any discussion of The Russia Thing.

I want to know all I deserve to know — which I happen to believe is a lot — about the president’s fortune. How he amassed it. I want to know whether he skirted federal tax law. I want to know about his debt obligations; after all, Trump said he is “the king of debt.”

None of this should be kept secret from the nation he was elected to lead. Donald Trump, though, is now going back on his pledge to release those returns. He has unleashed his legal team to fight Chairman Neal’s request for the returns.

If the president has nothing to hide — which he has declared many times — then he should have no difficulty showing us what those returns contain. Isn’t that what clean-as-a-whistle politicians do?

Trump’s boasts return to the headlines

Donald J. Trump Jr. had the bad sense to pop off about the college enrollment scandal that has swallowed up the careers of at least two prominent Hollywood TV and film stars.

Junior’s remarks brought out Twitter responses throughout the social media universe discussing how Don Jr. was able to parlay his father’s deep pockets into enrolling at a prestigious school.

And that brought back all those sound bites of Donald J. Trump Sr. bragging about his brilliance.

Which brings me to my point.

I’ve known a lot of wealthy and smart individuals over the course of my 69 years on this Earth. I have made the acquaintance of one billionaire and have become friendly with a number of individuals who are worth millions. I’ve known West Point, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy graduates. I have developed good relationships with many men and women with high-powered degrees from some of the top universities in the United States.

I cannot recall ever hearing a single one of them — be they wealthy or uber-smart — telling me how rich and smart they are. I always knew about their wealth and their intelligence. There was no need for any of them rub it in my face.

Thus, I always wonder when I hear the president of the United States tell us how he went to the “finest schools,” and has built a “world-class company” whether he really is as smart and as wealthy as he claims to be.

I think I can answer the first part of that query. Trump isn’t as smart as he proclaims. I believe that via the nature of the hideous way he communicates via Twitter; I also listen to his spoken syntax as he lies his way through public life.

As for the other part, his wealth, well . . . no one can say for certain if he is as filthy rich as he claims to be. He won’t show us his tax returns.

Therefore, many of us are left to wonder: Is he really that rich? I tend to think not.

Tax returns might answer our questions about Trump, Russia

I cannot shake the feeling that the most interesting and sought-after findings in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign will exist in the tax returns the president has refused to release for public scrutiny.

The special counsel reportedly is winding his exhaustive probe down. He’s been at since mid-2017 when the Justice Department hired him to examine those allegations of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian goons who interfered with our electoral process.

The tax returns keep refusing to go away.

Trump promised to release them after the Internal Revenue Service completed an audit. The IRS said an audit doesn’t preclude release of returns. Trump has gone silent on the tax returns, which presidential candidates dating back to 1976 have opened up for public review. The idea is to give the public a full accounting of the financial activities of the men and women seeking to become our head of state.

Trump hasn’t gone there. He won’t do it. He is breaking a campaign pledge, kind of how he pledged to make Mexico pay for The Wall he wants to build along our southern border.

Mueller’s investigation has been thorough, or so we have been led to believe. I happen to accept the notion that the former FBI director, a highly efficient prosecutor, has discovered a mountain of information about the president.

My strong sense echoes what many of us have heard already, that he has obtained those tax returns or at minimum has developed enough knowledge of what is in them. The returns well might reveal a trove of information about the nature of Trump’s business dealings around the world. After all, he has boasted repeatedly about the vastness of his empire — even though he has told us he has “no deals” in Russia. And we believe him, right?

The tax returns have been of considerable interest to many of us, especially those of us who have suspected that Donald Trump isn’t quite the fellow he presented himself to be, the kind of guy who won enough Electoral College votes to be elected to the only public office he ever has sought.

It might be that Mueller’s findings won’t reveal a thing about Donald Trump’s business dealings. However, I still insist, along with others, that the president should show us what is in those returns to allow us to make that determination for ourselves.

If he won’t, then I have this hunch that special counsel Robert Mueller will do it for him.

Tax returns: the gift that keeps on giving

Tax returns have, um, returned to the top of our awareness.

Not my tax returns. Or yours. I refer to the president of the United States.

You’ll recall when Donald Trump stiffed 40 years of political tradition by refusing to release his returns for public scrutiny. He said dubiously that he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. That was more than two years ago! He still hasn’t released them. He is showing not a single indication that he’ll do so voluntarily.

Presidential candidates of both parties since 1976 have released their tax returns in the spirit of full transparency. Trump talks about being transparent, then hides his returns.

They’re increasing in relevance to what has developed. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, likely knows what is in those returns. He likely knows about whether the president has invested in “Russia matters.” He likely knows whether the president has benefited materially from his office, which could be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, the part that says presidents cannot accept money from foreign governments.

We’ll know in due course whether Mueller has those returns. We’ll know also in due course whether the special counsel has anything incriminating regarding those returns.

The idea that Trump has refused to release those returns because of an IRS audit falls apart on two levels. First, he’s never produced any evidence that the IRS is even auditing his tax returns. Second, the IRS — which doesn’t comment on individual audits — has made it clear that an audit does not preclude any public figure from making those returns public.

My direct plea to the special counsel is this: Make those returns available to those of us who want to know the truth behind our president’s financial dealings.

Cool it with the accusations, Democrats

So much to say about the 2018 midterm election … so I’ll start with this item.

The presumptive speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said prior to the election that Democrats should cool it with talk of impeaching Donald J. Trump. She said impeaching the president is a non-starter and she didn’t want the campaign to be decided on that issue.

Here is her chance to make good on that plea.

Democrats seized control of the House last night. Senate Republicans gained a couple of seats, cementing the GOP control of the upper legislative chamber. The former House “ranking members” will become committee chairs. They’ll be able to call the shots in the House. The ballots were still being counted Tuesday night when word came out of Washington about Democrats wanting to subpoena the president’s tax returns, which he has (in)famously refused to release for public review.

I want to see them, too. However, Democrats also campaigned for office demanding that “pre-existing conditions” are honored if the House considers amending the Affordable Care Act. They have health care to consider.

They also have budgeting issues to ponder. They have to consider potential new tax cuts. That budget deficit is spiraling out of control.

The president called the new speaker last night to congratulate her for the Democrats’ House victory. The two of them reportedly talked about bipartisanship and working together to get things done on behalf of the people.

I don’t know if Trump actually means it, given his propensity for lying. Pelosi should heed that call, even if the president reneges down the line.

Those of us who want to see government re-learn how to function on behalf of the “bosses” — that’s you and me, folks — must demand that a divided Congress learn to unite within itself. We also must demand that the president and Congress set aside the fiery rhetoric and start acting as if they mean what they said about cooperation and compromise.

Grand jury portends intensifying of probe?

Am I able to make a presumption without sounding presumptuous?

I’ll give it a shot.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian meddling in our 2016 election, reportedly has just impaneled a grand jury to begin hearing evidence and, more than likely, call witnesses to tell the panel what they know about this matter.

Here’s my presumption: I am going to presume that Mueller’s investigation is gaining some speed and that the former FBI director just might be smelling some blood in the water around Donald J. Trump and his presidential campaign team.

Recall for a moment another grand jury that a special counsel impaneled. I refer to the panel called into duty at the behest of Kenneth Starr, who was ostensibly examining a real estate transaction involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then he stumbled onto something quite unexpected: a relationship that President Clinton was having with a young White House intern. He summoned the president to testify before the grand jury, which asked him about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the truth.

Bingo! Impeachment followed.

Is the past going to be a prologue for what might await the current president?

As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.”

I believe it also suggests that Mueller might expand his probe into areas other than precisely the Russian meddling and the allegations of collusion between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign. There might be a subpoena or two coming that deals with, say, Trump’s tax returns and assorted business connections involving Trump’s business interests and Russian government officials.

Here’s another presumption: This story is still building.

Tax returns might reveal the whole truth

Here they come again.

Those still-missing Donald J. Trump tax returns have returned to front row of discussion topics relating to the Russian probe into the president’s 2016 campaign.

Trump hasn’t released them. He has broken a 40-year streak of disclosures from presidential candidates. He keeps saying he’s “under audit” by the Internal Revenue Service.

But wait! Special counsel Robert Mueller is now thought to be examining the Trump business empire’s dealings that might have something to do with the Russian government, which has been linked to allegations that it sought to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

Won’t those tax returns tell the public whether Trump’s businesses had any skin in the game? Won’t they reveal the truth? Couldn’t they possibly clear the air? Might they tell us that Trump has been truthful, that he has no business dealings with Russia?

Or, might they tell us something else?

I know I’m repeating myself. That’s too bad. Those tax returns need to go before the public.

Tax ‘reform’ unveiled … now let’s see how it affects POTUS

I believe another mega-rich guy, the Texan H. Ross Perot, once said that the “devil is in the details.”

With that, one of the details of Donald John Trump’s tax proposal must include just how this “reform” affects the individual who has pitched it.

Yes, I’m talking about tax returns. Release them, Mr. President.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the president will not release those tax returns. There’s been enough information released already, he said. I disagree, quite naturally, with what the secretary suggests.

The major points about the president’s tax plan include a dramatic reduction — from 35 percent to 15 percent — in corporate income taxes for small businesses and a huge increase in the standard deduction for individuals’ tax returns.

As The Hill reported: “The plan would repeal taxes that mostly affect wealthy Americans, such as the alternative minimum tax for individuals and the estate tax. But it would also ‘eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers,’ according to the one-page outline released Wednesday.”

Why is release of the president’s tax returns relevant? He has not divested himself of his huge business interests. Therefore, he stands to be affected in some fashion by what he has pitched. Americans have the right to know just how Donald Trump’s portfolio is affected.

He isn’t likely to release those returns just because many of his fellow Americans want him to do so. Still, it’s worth making the demand yet again. I believe I will keep yammering about the returns during Trump’s time in office.

But here’s another wrinkle.

How does the tax plan affect revenue to pay for at least two major Trump proposals: infrastructure repair and, yep, that dadgum wall.

Trump wants to spend about a trillion bucks to fix highways, bridges and airports. Will these tax cuts reduce cash flow into the Treasury, making it impossible to “pay as you go” on these projects?

Oh, and the wall is going to cost — according to varying estimates — as much as $25 billion. How does the president intend to pay for that project? Do not tell me “Mexico is going to pay for it.” That will not happen. 

As it’s often said: The president proposes, Congress disposes. You can bet your last nickel that congressional progressives will continue to insist that Trump release his tax returns as condition for any tax overhaul.

My gut tells me the disposition of this tax plan — absent the president’s release of his tax returns — continues to be one of the great mysteries in the nation’s capital.