General Question

crazyguy's avatar

Do you think The NY Times story about Trump's taxes will hurt Trump?

Asked by crazyguy (3194points) September 27th, 2020

Most American taxpayers have not even heard of esoteric items in the IRS code like Net Operating Loss. So I have a problem with journalists presenting something they themselves do not understand fully. Actually I have three problems:

1. They are presented as tax “dodges”; the fact is they are used by most businesses.
2. The final tax payment tis compared to that of the average citizen.
3. For years the same journalists have been denigrating Trump’s business acumen. Normally, the lack of business acumen results in businesses losing money, which results in no tax being paid. Yet when they realize little or no tax was paid, they seem to suspect something sinister.

Since the average Trump supporter and hater won’t even understand the tax info, will it harm Trtump’s chances in November?

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41 Answers

jca2's avatar

I haven’t yet read the story but a friend told me about it earlier this evening. I have access to the Times so I will read it in the next few days. Someone in my family is a CPA and a Trump supporter so I am interested to hear what he has to say about it.

No, I don’t think it will hurt Trump because the people that are gung ho about him feel that way despite his grab ‘em by the pussy comment, his making fun of the reporter with Cerebral Palsy, and a ton of other crazy and vile shit that he has said and done over the past four years, so why would they be put off by this?

Irukandji's avatar


Trump fought tooth and nail to hide his tax returns, so it’s not surprising that the details are potentially embarrassing (to the extent that Trump is still capable of feeling shame). But his critics already knew most of it (since he basically admitted it during one of the debates) and his supporters won’t care (since his business credentials have never been their actual reason for supporting him).

Maybe it would have been a problem for him if his tax returns had been released four years ago (his campaign obviously thought the price of concealing them was less than the price of releasing them). But we’re long past the point where anyone is making up their minds based on his financial history.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Nope. Trump supporters, don’t care about ANYTHING he’s done.
Trump haters, won’t change their mind about him either.
The nation is divided…..

Jeruba's avatar

It is not about his embarrassment. He’s shameless. It’s about using the country as his personal piggy bank because he has such tremendous debts and business losses—and the presidency as his hammer. And because he has tried to con everybody into thinking he’s (a) rich and (b) good at making money.

He’s good at stealing money. And he is not a reliable custodian of public resources.

Maybe even some Republicans don’t like the idea of paying in taxes that he is going to take out for his own use, one way or another. It’s a little worse than stiffing contractors and cheating investors, and that was never very nice.

LostInParadise's avatar

How did the NYT get access to Trump’s tax returns? I thought he refused to release them?

jca2's avatar

@LostInParadise: My first thought was Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

rockfan's avatar

No I don’t think that will hurt him. What WILL hurt him is the recent story that came out where he prevented free masks from being delivered to every household.

KNOWITALL's avatar

No. Show me one person/business who doesn’t take every legal break they’re allowed. Sigh.

Irukandji's avatar

@KNOWITALL Well, I don’t take every legal break I’m allowed. I take the standard deduction even when itemizing would save me more money.

But the issue for Trump’s critics isn’t about whether the deductions he has taken are legal or not. It’s the fact that his tax returns contradict the narrative he has spun about being a great business man. He has managed to avoid taxes because of his enormous losses. He is, by his own standards, a massive loser.

This isn’t to say that a lot of Trump opponents don’t think that our tax codes should be changed or that Trump’s ability to avoid taxes by being the first person in history to take a loss on a casino isn’t strongly indicative of the problem. But that’s a separate issue that doesn’t have anything to do with his tax returns. We already knew that the tax code was messed up.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Of course not. And Dems need to stop thinking that ___ will hurt him. There is literally nothing that Trump could do – or could be revealed about him – that would hurt him. How this isn’t clear to everyone is puzzling.

As with 2016, we’re again dealing with the “enthusiasm gap”. The only way Trump loses is if the Dems (somehow) start appealing to people by actually offering something. “Not Trump” is going to some people to the polls. But that doesn’t result in people voting in large numbers.

“Oh my god, you won’t believe what Trump did now!!” is exhausting. If you supported Trump at any point during this or last election, you are not subject to influence. You are information-immune.

This is the Dem’s election to lose, and they’re working hard to lose it.

crazyguy's avatar

@KNOWITALL I play the game by all its rules. Sometimes the rules help, most times they hurt. So @Irukandji if you don’t take the tax breaks you are entitled to, I imagine the reason is one of the following two:

1. You did not know about it when you filed your taxes.
2. You felt it would be too hard to itemize.

Every once in a while, my accountant and I will conclude, that a tax break requires too much documentation and is not worthwhile. BUT those occasions are rare.

crazyguy's avatar

@jca2 Since The NY Times does not have the full tax returns, the story is going to be full of unconfirmed rumors with no way to verify any of the numbers. And, since most taxpayers have no idea of the goodies hidden in our tax code, the innuendo will just not fly,. I can see The NY Times actually stop defending the story at some point in time, probably when it seems clear that Trump will win four more years.

crazyguy's avatar

@Irukandji Rich people’s tax returns are much too complicated for the average Joe. I used to do my own taxes, and, when Romney released his returns, I was so surprised that he was in a lower tax bracket than me. So I went through his returns with a fine tooth comb and learnt his secret. Borrow, baby!

Irukandji's avatar

@hmmmmmm Biden is ahead, the enthusiasm gap is closing, and Romney was ahead of Obama in enthusiasm by similar margins in 2012. I agree that the Democrats won’t win on nothing more than being against Trump, but there are a lot of people who like what they are offering even if you and I aren’t thrilled by it.

@crazyguy Nope. Neither of those things are true. I’ve always known that I could save more by itemizing, and it would be perfectly easy for me to do so. My father had a degree in accounting and taught me all about this stuff at age 12. But not everybody is driven by money.

And again, nobody is objecting to the fact that Trump took all legal breaks. They object to him not adhering to the norm about releasing tax returns and they point out that the information in his tax returns prove that his entire personal narrative is false.

crazyguy's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I am a Trump supporter, and I would be extremely upset if he did not take advantage of every loophole in the tax code. He does not have the excuse of too much effort.

Irukandji's avatar

Funny how @crazyguy keeps coming back to the one thing no one is really objecting to.

Irukandji's avatar

Also, learn how to combine your responses. It’s considered rude here to just post individual responses all in a row.

crazyguy's avatar

@rockfan I have not seen the mask story. But I don’t think that will hurt him either.

crazyguy's avatar

@Irukandji I do combine my responses sometimes; just forgot this morning. By the way, I have noticed that Fluther will let you combine responses to just a few people at a time.

I guess the one thing you are referring to would be taking every legal write-off?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Anyone who by now does not understand that Trump is a snake deserves to be swindled. The endless list of banks, businesses, municipalities, states, contractors, his own employees and close relatives who’ve been scammed and cheated by the fool by now leaves the IRS just another chump. By now, it no longer matters how scandalous or out and out crooked the man is. That he is a deceitful fraud as a business man is no longer in doubt and every bit as obvious as his thug like impersonation of a President. And he has the bankruptcies and lawsuit history to prove it

dabbler's avatar

The ONLY goal of Trump’s base is to piss off “the liberals”.
They do not care about anything else.

gorillapaws's avatar

In 2016 this would hurt him. He has developed a persona of being a successful businessman. Many of us have known for a long time that the emperor had no clothes. He’s the spoiled son of a wealthy guy who squandered his inheritance through incompetence while marketing himself as a tycoon to those who fell for it. It’s one thing to take losses from one year to the next and to work the game. It’s another to be a chronic looser year-after-year and deeply in debted to foreign banks (because the domestic banks have blackballed him).

In 2020 I don’t think it matters. His fans have accepted that Trump is competent (if not celebrating him for being fantastic). They will see these leaks as fake news. We have the DNC and Clinton campaign to thank for legitimizing him and elevating him to this position. Trump is merely an actor playing a successful businessman on TV, and at this point, the show has been on the air long enough that people believe him.

Irukandji's avatar

@crazyguy You can combine responses to as many people as you want within the (rather large) character limit for answers.

And yes, the “one thing” is “taking every legal write-off.” Like I have already said, there’s a difference between “he took every legal write-off” (unobjectionable, though we might complain about the tax code itself) and “he’s such a failure that his losses eliminated his tax liability” (which undermines one the rationales for his presidency).

One of the consistent elements of political discussion is that neither side really understands the other side’s complaints or objections. They just filter everything into terms they already understand. So Trump supporters think his critics object to the fact of him taking every available write-off when that’s not their actual complaint.

chyna's avatar

We can hope it will.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I don’t really give a shit about his tax returns, and his cultists won’t ether. For me all they are is further confirmation of the fraud I’ve always known him to be.

jca2's avatar

I see his Tweet said “I’ve paid many million dollars in taxes but like everyone else, was entitled to depreciation and tax credits.”

The main problem is the tax laws, which enabled Warren Buffet to pay less in taxes than his secretary.

When I used to work in the field with customers (clients) who received Medicaid for personal care (home health aide) services, you would be astounded at the huge mansions I visited, incredible mansions, where people hid their assets legally and were poor, on paper, so they received Medicaid and all the services and money that comes with it. It’s all legal, and it has to do with rich people (politicians, to start) pushing through tax laws and estate planning laws that enable this to happen. All legal, all at the expense of taxpayers. Just like Trump.

gorillapaws's avatar

@jca2 ”...where people hid their assets legally and were poor, on paper…”

If you’re poor on paper, then you don’t own assets. I can take out a huge loan to finance a Ferrari that I cannot afford, but that doesn’t make it MY asset, it’s the BANK’S. I suspect many of the people on medicaid living in mansions were highly indebted and not doing nearly as well as they pretended to.

crazyguy's avatar

@Irukandji Almost every company in businesses involving real estate took it on the chin in 2007–2010. Just because Trump’s casino companies went bankrupt does not make him a bad businessman.

crazyguy's avatar

@gorillapaws In my opinion Trump has had successes and failures like most businessmen. His major failure occurred during the sub-prime crisis. The amazing thing is that he was still standing after that period. Even more amazing is going to be his re-election.

crazyguy's avatar

@jca2 I agree there is unfairness hidden in those 2,600 pages of IRS code. Even the famous ACA had goodies provided to some people in order to secure their votes to pass the legislation. Heck, that has been going on since Lincoln if not earlier.

crazyguy's avatar

@gorillapaws Wrong. If you decide to buy a car with a loan, you still own the car. As long as you keep on making the monthly payment.

jca2's avatar

No, @gorillapaws. They use estate planning laws to put their money in trusts, legally. This makes them eligible for Medicaid. I’m not talking about loans, I’m talking about people moving their money and hiding it. I’m sure you’ve heard of elderly people visiting estate planning attorneys and moving their money so when they go to a nursing home, the nursing home can’t take it?

jca2's avatar

@gorillapaws: This, from an estate planning law site:

If you read the details, they describe shielding assets so you can apply for Medicaid. This is just one example of a tactic to shield assets, obviously, it is different depending on the person’s circumstances.

gorillapaws's avatar

@crazyguy _”...As long as you keep on making the monthly payment.”

Well there’s the rub. You may own it in the legal sense, but is it really yours if it can be taken away if you stop payments?

On a balance sheet you’d have a book value of zero if you 100% financed a Ferrari. It’s not an impressive feat to borrow money and then spend it, especially if you can’t pay back the people you borrowed from. Any asshole can pull that off.

@crazyguy “Trump has had successes…”

In business, what successes?

rebbel's avatar

He successfully started a whole bunch of businesses.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Trump was bankrupting casinos decades before 2007–2010, however.

seawulf575's avatar

Not really (the NYT story won’t hurt President Trump). Face it, it is unverified information for one, tax returns won’t give the Dems all the juicy stuff they want. The worst they could get, even if the information was accurate, is a show of how much President Trump paid in taxes, what deductions he took,etc. They might give a clue as to how he structured some of his businesses for tax purposes. But nothing exciting. And in the end, those that hate Trump will continue to hate him, and those that don’t hate him won’t start hating him because of these. My personal feelings on his taxes is (1) it really isn’t my business and (2) If he does use the tax codes to avoid taxes and knows how to dance through that maze, good for him. That doesn’t make him a bad person, it makes the over-bloated tax codes the problem. I’ll say it again…do a 10% flat tax on all income with no deductions and no loopholes.

kritiper's avatar

The average Trump supporter may not understand the tax code, but they know how much they pay in taxes. I’m under the poverty level and I pay more taxes than Trump.

stanleybmanly's avatar

In the end the die hard Trump supporters are going to vote for the fool no matter what. To my mind the great threat to his re-election is from those who last time were so opposed to both candidates that they sat the election out as well as those who didn’t bother to vote because they assumed that there was no way in hell the fool could win. I believe that 3 years of shining his ass at the public expense will be given the consideration it deserves by more than just the Lincoln project.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@crazyguy . I’m not really mad at Trump, on this one issue. It’s definitely a case of tax laws, simply benefiting the wealthy.

However. If he indeed lied about the amount of money he received from his dead father, he should be held accountable. That means prison time….

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