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Stop Whining About Trump’s Tax Return. He Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong

It makes some kind of perverse sense in 2016 that Donald Trump may suffer most from what should be one of the least controversial things he’s done.


It’s every American’s patriotic duty to do everything within the bounds of the law to avoid enriching a wasteful, bloated, and intrusive government. It’s one of the ideas that sparked the founding of the nation, so I’m not sure why anyone is offended by the notion.

Here’s what we know: Donald Trump isn’t as good business as he’d like voters believe, but he’s better at hiring accountants than any of us. Now, I get we live in a populist era where class warfare is the preferred political weapon. And I get that Hillary Clinton would be negligent if she weren’t mocking revelations about Trump’s finances, since the man’s entire case for the presidency is based on his alleged competency. I also get that many Americans get agitated by the absurd contention that wealthy people like Trump are not paying their “fair share” in taxes – which will only be fair for Democrats when it’s all the taxes.

Trump’s return? Well, it’s about the least offensive I’ve learned about the GOP nominee since he declared his candidacy.

Nearly every journalist, politician, billionaire, HBO talk show host and citizen mocking him for filing lawful deductions (and as far as I know — and they know — this was all legal; maybe we’ll learn something more in the future) does the very same thing every year. And every single one of them is a hypocrite.

It reminds me of the sinner who talks a big game at church. All these people treat state programs as if they were vessels from which the nation’s morality and decency flowed. So they talk taxes as if they were sacraments. Take Mark Cuban, a person whose loathing of Trump has gotten him saying lots of silly things lately, who claimed the other day that paying taxes was “patriotic.” (Surely he pays more than obligated.) Democrat like Joe Biden and others have been repeating this un-American line for years.

Taxation is a compulsory contribution to revenues that fund the state – sometimes at a rate that discourages new businesses, charitable giving, consumerism, investments, and so on. A person who joined a volunteer fire department and helps his community be safer is a patriot. A person who pays capital gains taxes is double paying his bill. He should do it as little as legally possible.

Oh, but think of the scale! So what?

Trump reported a loss of $916 million on his 1995 New York State tax return, on loses that came from investments, some that were made decade beforehand (though The New York Times piece sure seems to be journalistically suspect with its dramatic assumptions). Thankfully we allow those losses on be carried on their books for 15 years rather than allowing taxes to destroying a company for taking risks.

It was reported that Trump’s loses came from investment in Trump Shuttle airline, some Atlantic City casinos, and in his New York properties, like Plaza Hotel, when they took hit after the real estate bubble popped. Some of those ventures were undertaken in the 1980s. Do want to discourage investment?  Do we want to tax all American on their losses — or just rich Americans? How will that work?

It might be emotionally pleasing to nail some wealthy guy on his losses, but what exactly is the economic upside of making a billionaire pay up in one year rather than 15? More than a million taxpayers filed for Net Operating Lose deductions every year.

And, finally.

Dear media: Donald Trump did not take advantage of a “loophole.” I repeat, Donald Trump did not take advantage of a loophole. We’ve been trained to call every law that Democrats have decided they want to further regulate or tax a “loophole.”  In its economic usage, “loophole” creates the false impression that people are getting away with breaking the law or doing something unethical. As far as we know, Donald Trump followed the law like anyone else who deducts loses from their taxes.

It’s legitimate to attack presidential candidates for failing to release their returns. But it makes only perverse sense that the GOP nominee may suffer most from what should be one of the least controversial things he’s done.