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JLeslie's avatar

Did Trump only pay $750 in taxes, or he owed $750 at the end of the year?

Asked by JLeslie (61541points) September 27th, 2020 from iPhone

I heard on TV that Trump’s income taxes are out there (not sure where) and he paid zero taxes some years and $750 one of the years while in office. Obviously, my information is sketchy at best.

Is the $750 the balance he owed at the end of the year? Or, is it the total he had due for that entire tax year?

I don’t think Trump supporters will care at all how much taxes he pays, I’m not sure I care. I care that the tax laws need to be changed. I do care if he broke the law.

I also care if Democrats are saying he only paid $750 if he had already paid quarterly hundreds of thousands, because then Democrats look like idiots. Hopefully, that is not the case.

I’m sure he gets away with paying very very low taxes, I have no doubt. Real estate sales get taxed at low rates or not at all. I’m sure he times his losses to reduce income. No surprise.

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19 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

The New York Times, of today’s date, 9/27/2020. Headline:

Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance

The story begins:

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

I don’t see how else to read that than that he paid a TOTAL of seven hundred fifty dollars in both 2015 and 2016. And in a number of other years he paid ZERO in federal income taxes.

chyna's avatar

Paid 750.00
Not sure why people shouldn’t care about how he has cheated on his taxes, but I care.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks! I read it the same.

@chyna If he cheated I definitely care. If he cheated probably a lot of his supporters won’t believe he cheated. If all he did was work the system without cheating then none of his supporters will care I don’t think.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I read it as he paid $750 in 2016 and another $750 in 2017.

I care too @chyna. He’s nothing more than a common criminal…and a stupid one at that.

Darth_Algar's avatar

“Irwin R. Schyster? Never heard of him. Maybe I met him once.”

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Didn’t Trump say he was proud not to pay taxes last election in a debate with Hillary Clinton. His base will love him even more.

The more screwed up he sounds to democrats the more his base loves him.

I knew an accountant who loved using as much perks as possible and was admired the more he screwed over his expense account.

He also made up amounts for client’s receipt with out totals.

It’s a game.

These people have never been without and can’t relate.

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, I don’t think the point is how much he did or didn’t pay as his share, as you and I and other ordinary citizens have always had to do, even if that’s a perfectly fair question.

The point is that he is conclusively and irrevocably exposed as a world-class loser and con man. He has lost so much money in his businesses that he could legally pay zero taxes. And he is flagrantly (and illegally) using the power of the U.S. presidency both to enrich himself and to avoid legal consequences for his criminal behavior. The United States is his personal cash cow, and its government is his bodyguard and hit squad.

Do you not care about that?

In Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (2015), Russia expert Karen Dawisha wrote about Putin that he expects to be destroyed as soon as he steps aside, so he has to win—“you’ll put us to the wall and execute us” was the way his PR chief quoted him (page 196). This was before Putin pulled off the coup that gave him an extra twelve years in office.

Describing the systematic looting of the country and the scams abroad that Putin and his cadre of cronies have used to enrich themselves, where “110 billionaires control 35 percent of the country’s wealth” (page 1), she wrote: “In any Western country, this [corruption] would be called criminal malfeasance. In Russia it is called government” (page 330).

She defines Putin’s “vertical of power”: “suppress opposition, control the mass media, diminish federalism, and remove the legislature as a source of independent activity” (page 293).

When I read that book nearly three years ago, I wrote this note: “If Trump were following Putin’s playbook, what would he be doing differently from what he’s doing now?”

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I care a lot about how Trump is enriching himself utilizing his position and power as president. Your examples are Russia. As you know my husband is Mexican, and for 4 years I have listened to him complain that Trump is like presidents in his country who steal the government money for themselves. So you can add Mexico and probably other third world countries to your list.

When Mitt Romney was running for president and answered a reporter how much he pays in taxes the Democrats went insane that it was only 13% or 15% of his income. I don’t remember exactly the percentage. Why was that a surprise? Warren Buffett has been telling us for years he pays much less than his secretary. I saw Romney when he answered, I don’t think he ever expected that answer to receive criticism. It’s normal for them.

Now, we have Trump paying next to nothing, which is not a surprise either. If he had a massive business loss then it gets carried forward. I assume it’s a business loss. Wait, is it his business taxes?

I really care about all the loopholes and write-offs that favor the rich. I am dumbfounded that middle class people (mostly Republicans) actually defend giving wealthy people massive tax advantages. They believe the wealthy should be allowed to hold onto their money, that it will trickle down, and they have no real concept of the math and will ignore it much like they ignore covid math.

If a Democrat had these sort of ties to Putin and Russia and paying zero taxes the Republicans would be up in arms, but they simply don’t believe it about Trump. They are brainwashed and manipulated. At minimum they are bamboozled.

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, I know my examples are of Russia. That’s exactly why I mentioned them. Shouldn’t it bother us that Trump is doing the same thing that Putin does? Shouldn’t it bother us that examples from Russia fit our president equally well?

As recently as 2015, Dawisha was able to make a crucial distinction between the practices of the heads of the Russian and American governments (and Western governments in general) that she wouldn’t be able to make today if she were still alive.

The mention of Russia is not about Trump’s ties to Russia. NYT says the returns do not “reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.” It’s about the parallel. Trump is our Putin.

But without the IQ, and without even the class of Don Corleone.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I’m agreeing with you about your Russian example, I’m just giving you an additional example of how what is happening right now is so far from what an American president should do. It’s disastrous to me.

JLeslie's avatar

I read the NYT piece and again my big concern is the money that involves foreign governments. The Trumpers I know completely dismiss any connection with foreign governments controlling him in any way. I do not believe this information will change their minds. The conservatives who don’t like him, but vote for him, maybe some of them will care.

Paying low taxes for businessmen is partly a matter of timing, which the article portrays. Selling when there are losses to counterbalance the profit, pushing gains into the next year, writing off expenses, etc. He pays his daughter as a consultant, which moves money to her tax free for him, as a gift it would be taxed, unless he claimed it to be part of his estate, but his estate is so large he will wind up paying some estate tax probably, unless there is a way around like reducing his wealth before he dies.

As the article said business losses you can carry over for years in full. I’m not sure I have a problem with that part of the tax code, probably there should be some limits.

Every time politicians talk about taxation and small businesses like bleeding hearts you can be sure they are talking about changing tax law to benefit themselves. If you own a business you can write off all sorts of things the person on payroll can’t. I don’t want small business to be taxed to death, I owned a business myself and am self employed now, but the majority of people are not likely to understand that article nor read it. Not because they are stupid, but because tax laws are confusing, and most people don’t really grasp the game unless they are actually utilizing some of the laws themselves, even very smart people, unless they have really taken the time to study it. His average supporter doesn’t read the NYT is my guess, and the wealthy who support him play a similar game with the tax code.

Being able to reduce income like paying his daughter and staying at his hotels, eating out, entertainment, small business owners use these laws too. I was always afraid to take advantage of some of it, it wasn’t worth it to me to risk an audit; it would save me only small amounts so I didn’t bother unless it really was a business expense without question, but many people do take advantage. They buy their children clothes on the business, buy computers, phones, cars, etc. That’s all with tax free dollars if it is an expense on the business. They reduce the profit way down or show a loss, but they are actually making money. It’s legal if it’s a valid expense. Buying your 5 year old clothing for school isn’t valid. Unless maybe it has your company logo on the shirt and it’s an advertisement.

One thing that occurred to me was when Trump became a Florida resident I was surprised he wasn’t one already. In Florida we have no income tax, so at least part of his earnings would likely be tax free at the state level. It also would reduce his property tax at Mar-a-Lago for years to come, but he can’t get that reduction in property tax if it is a business property, so maybe he won’t be utilizing that benefit? That would be a matter of public record that I could easily look up.

As far as I know the property tax cap is not inheritable in Florida, unless that has changed. In California you can pass on the property tax cap to your children, unless that has changed, or if I misunderstood the laws, I only know this because of a friend who owns property in California. In Florida if he is getting the exemption he would have a reduction on the value and a cap of 3% per year appraised value for his lifetime.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: Someone in my family used to own a business in Las Vegas (maybe they still own it, I don’t know). Both the husband and wife had leased BMW’s, leased through the business. They’d take vacations and do some business meetings and deals when they were on vacation, so the vacation was a write off. Dinners out in fancy restaurants, all an expense.

I know someone else who had a floor finishing business, owned by two partners, and the wives both were on the payroll, even through the wives didn’t work. That also had the advantage of padding the wives’ Social Security for when they started collecting.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Right. That stuff is done all the time. Although, the IRS does say the pay had to be customary. So, for instance you can’t pay your wife as a receptionist $200,000. The tax law also says a business owner has to be on the payroll if they run the businesses and paid a customer amount, meaning some business owners want to be paid less, because it’s easier to get rid of profit with write-offs, but you can’t reduce your salary as easily. You can with IRA’s and other retirement vehicles, but there are limits on those. Some are very high limits though. The limit on a SEP is around $50,000, so a couple can sock away $100,000 tax free until they start withdrawing the money at retirement. Plus, they can each give $15k to each child tax free as gifts every year to disperse their wealth without tax.

I read that NYT’s article and the amounts are so big, and he has been under audit, so that means the IRS went over his taxes. Some of it sounds like it’s allowed, except for that one huge number under question that he is hoping not to pay back. I interpret the article as mostly explaining what was observed in his tax return, not necessarily that it’s all illegal.

I think the Democrats are hoping people will be shocked and hate him. I don’t think that will happen among Republicans. I don’t even know if they will see it play in the media they listen to for any length of time.

I do think a major reason he ran for president was for the publicity. I also think he wants to hold onto being president for the financial opportunities.

I wonder what Fox is saying about it all. I assume his faithful followers will just say Trump said all along it was under audit and he followed what his accountants told him. I’ll see on my Facebook.

LogicHead's avatar

Aren’t you being willfully ignorant? He has donated his salary since the beginning, that’s about 100 000 a yearl

Dutchess_III's avatar

So what? That would be like me donating $2 to Goodwill. There is really nothing there to brag about. Donating his salary isn’t hurting him. (Plus I bet a hundred buck he only pretends to donate his salary. It’s probably just another lie from the liar in chief.)
Also, check your facts. Don’t just guess. The president’s salary is almost $400,000, not $100,000.

JLeslie's avatar

@LogicHead Who is donating their $100,000 salary? Are you talking about Trump? His salary is $400,000. That is just so he can say he doesn’t take a salary, but he has used millions from the government to fly around the country and world, and charges the government for events at his hotels.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not to mention his golfing, which costs the taxpayers millions.

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