Why won’t Donald Trump release his taxes? An investigation into the G.O.P. candidate’s finances—the extensive deductions he could claim, the F.E.C. filings from his Scottish and Irish golf resorts, and his declarations to the British government—reveals a disturbing pattern of mistakes, hype, and contradictions.
Drip, Drip, Drip: Well, there’s another two years that Donald Trump didn’t pay any taxes.
Politico's Shane Goldmacher, relying on New Jersey gambling records while Trump continues to keep his returns private, found out that it doesn’t look like Trump had any tax liability in 1991 or 1993. That means there’s now at least five reported years over the last four decades that Trump didn’t pay any taxes, counting also 1978 and 1979 (per The Washington Post) and 1984 (via the Daily Beast).
Robert Gordon, the president of Twenty-First Securities Corp., is something of a guru when it comes to tax efficient investing. He writes and lectures widely on the topic, and has created the visualization below showing the likelihood of various tax outcomes depending on which political party controls the White House and Congress next year. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the November election, Gordon offers two pieces of specific advice for well off folks seeking to election proof their finances.
The Trump Foundation, Donald Trump’s nonprofit organization, is under fire for allegedly operating as more of a political slush fund than a charity. The foundation is accused of violating rules prohibiting it from engaging in politics—prompting ethics watchdogs to call for public investigations.
On numerous occasions this year, Trump’s campaign work and his foundation work have overlapped—putting himself at risk for penalties and his charity at risk of being shut down.
New questions about the integrity of Donald Trump’s income tax returns, and new indications that he does not pay income taxes, arise from rulings in two tax appeals that Trump filed in the 1990s. Trump lost both cases. ...
These two decisions should prompt new calls for Trump to release his tax returns. He claims, falsely, that he cannot release his returns since 2012 because they are being audited. But a tax return is filed under penalty of perjury and releasing a return has no effect on an audit, as many tax authorities (including a former IRS commissioner) have noted.
As Donald Trump prepared for the Republican primaries, he transferred dozens of his most prized assets, the “Trump” trademarks that adorn everything from hotels to ties to his U.S. golf courses, into a new Delaware-based company — a move that offers him a chance to cut his income-tax bills.
Data doesn’t win elections; candidates do. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump bet on that idea last week when he announced his plan to rely on his personality and rallies in the general election instead of collecting data on voters. Trump has a point: The effect of “big data” and improved analytics on elections is often overhyped. Even David Plouffe — the architect of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, the most data-savvy in history — agreed that Obama’s “data processing machine” was not responsible for his wins.
But Republicansareworried, and for good reason: Trump’s assumption that the sole value of data is to win more votes is too narrow. His decision to limit the role of data probably won’t be the deciding factor in the 2016 election, but data organization and access are an investment in the future of the party. A presidential campaign presents a rare opportunity to cultivate the next generation of talent and collect a ton of new data on voters, and Trump’s refusal to do so means that Republicans may need to wait until 2020 or beyond to even the playing field with Democrats. ...
Democrats now hold a substantial expertise advantage in digital data-driven campaigning, and the GOP admitted as much in their 2012 election post-mortem. John McCain hired only 15 data staffers in 2008, compared with Obama’s 131. To his credit, Mitt Romney increased the number of data hires to 87 in 2012. (Obama had 342). In 2016, Republicans were positioned to build on this effort and narrow the analysis gap between the parties, pivoting off of two consecutive losses into an innovative data strategy — just like in 1964 and 2004.
But Republicans seem set to squander the opportunity. Trump currently employs as few as two staffers dedicated to data, accordingtoreports.
Economic inequality is high and rising. At the same time, many governments are struggling to balance budgets while maintaining spending for popular programs.
That’s prompted some presidential candidates to argue it’s time to raise taxes on the rich. Bernie Sanders is leading the charge and would create a new top income tax rate of 54.2 percent, up from the current 39.6 percent. Hillary Clinton would institute the so-called “Buffett rule” to require individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million to pay an effective rate of at least 30 percent, and she’d add a new 4 percent surcharge on anyone who pulls in $5 million or more.
As White House aspirants, other politicians and voters debate whether it’s time to once again soak the rich to spread their wealth around, it’s helpful to consider what prompted past governments — ours and others — to raise their taxes.
We investigated tax debates and policies in 20 countries from 1800 to the present for our new book, Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe [Princeton University Press, 2016] [blogged here]. Our research shows that it is changes in beliefs about fairness — and not economic inequality or the need for revenue alone — that have driven the major variations in taxes on high incomes and wealth over the past two centuries.
The tax reform plans of the five remaining presidential candidates tell us a lot about our outdated federal tax system, which was designed for the industrial economy of the last century. All five candidates promise reform, but their plans just tinker around the edges. None of the five addresses the major reasons the federal tax system imposes far more economic pain than necessary on most Americans.
There are long lists of Hillary Clinton scandals, but the vortex of issues surrounding her speeches remains a major one. The speech issue is multi-faceted, raising questions about what she said to whom and at what price. In this sense, Hillary may be her own worst enemy. She has stalled endlessly, and has still failed to release the transcripts. That kind of stonewalling fuels more speculation, and it is hardly in her favor.
For example, you can read an amusing imagined text of Hillary’s speech to Goldman Sachs. We presumably will never see the real one, though it can hardly be worse than an imagined version. Arguably, though, just as major an issue is the money trail from Hillary’s speeches. The data has had to be teased out. However, the connections between a former President and Secretary of State hobnobbing with foreign government and corporate chieftains over U.S. policy issues remains of interest. The money was big for Bill and Hillary, with even some for Chelsea.
Thanks to Delaware’s strict corporate secrecy laws, more than 285,000 companies are registered, for tax reasons, at a two-story building in Wilmington—more than any other address in the world. Among them are holding companies belonging to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has found a solution that cuts both his grass and his tax bill: Goats.
The Republican presidential front-runner’s small goat herd, combined with hay farming and wood cutting, let him qualify for a New Jersey farmland tax break that saves him tens of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes on two golf courses, according to public records.
As both the 114th Congress and President Barack Obama’s second term come to a close, respondents to the 10th Annual Miller & Chevalier/National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Tax Policy Forecast Survey expect 2016 to bring more conversation but little legislative action on tax policy. ...
Despite the increasing rhetoric, none of this year’s survey respondents believe tax reform will happen in 2016. An overwhelming number of respondents (82 percent) believe there will be no tax legislation at all this year. And, while believing that changes in government leadership should positively impact the likelihood of tax reform, respondents remain unsure whether tax reform will happen in the near future. Respondents are evenly divided as to whether tax reform will be enacted in 2017 or 2018, and almost 11 percent believe it will never happen.
Tax executives say divided government is one of the major impediments to enacting tax reform legislation. Nearly 90 percent believe that tax reform is most likely if Republicans control both the House and the Senate; just 7 percent think Democratic control of both houses of Congress would yield progress.
Ed Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania, made a mistake that could cost some fellow Democrats big bucks.
Rendell — chairman of the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention — failed to obtain 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt status before collecting money, and now his donors can’t get tax deductions on their contributions.
Churches differ on opinions about whether they should be politically involved. The IRS, on the other hand, is clear on its stance: churches need to stay out of the political ring or risk losing their tax-exempt status. This download provides the tax and legal guidelines faith-based organizations need to know before jumping into the political fray.
The Politics of Religion What it could cost your church for participating in political activity. By Richard R. Hammar
When Church Meets Candidate How churches can navigate candidate appearances. By Emily Lund
Avoiding the Elephant (or Donkey) in the Pulpit How pastors can preach about the important matters of the day—without becoming too political or risking a church's tax-exempt status. By Bobby Ross Jr
Supporters say a VAT can be good for economic growth. Critics say it encourages wasteful government spending.
In discussions about changing the U.S. tax system, one topic almost always arises: the possibility of adopting a value-added tax.
After all, most of the industrialized world uses a VAT—which is not to say they all like it.
Unlike a traditional sales tax, a VAT is a levy on consumption that taxes the value added to a product or service by businesses at each point in the chain of production. Businesses along the chain collect the tax and send it to the government, which supporters say is a boon for the efficiency of revenue-collection efforts. But ultimately, it is the consumer who pays the tax, because the final price of the goods and services they buy reflects all of the taxes that have been charged up to that point. The taxes are all baked into the retail price.
In this way, a VAT taxes what people consume rather than how much they earn. But this is also a reason why some consider a VAT to be unfair—because, the critics say, the burden of taxation falls disproportionately on those with lower incomes.
Supporters of a VAT, meanwhile, say it is better for economic growth than an income tax because it doesn’t tax savings or investment. And governments like it because it tends to bring in more revenue, thanks in part to the role that businesses play in its collection. Incentivizing their efforts, businesses receive credits for the VAT they pay.
The Republican presidential hopefuls are all offering tax plans that would boost the economy, which is encouraging, given that U.S. growth has slowed to a trickle over the past decade. The question is whether any of these proposals are politically viable.
Most are vulnerable to two lines of attack: Their biggest beneficiaries would be the top 1%, and they would substantially increase the $19 trillion national debt. Republicans must be able to answer these charges—and build widespread political support.
I would invite them to take a look at my Main Street Tax Plan, which was released by the Hudson Institute on Sunday. The proposal would give a tax cut to nearly all Americans: $2,153 to a single person making $60,000; $2,020 to a couple making $80,000; and $2,055 to a family of four making $95,000. The biggest beneficiaries would be middle-class Americans, who would fare twice as well as the top 1%.
Donald Trump, challenged again to release his tax returns, offers a nonsense excuse for keeping them secret. But worse than that, the national political reporters covering Trump’s presidential campaign have, yet again, missed big, obvious stories about his conduct and character
Compounding these errors, some journalists have reported nonsense as egregious as Trump’s, concerning what his tax returns would tell us. Many seem certain that they will reveal his actual wealth even though tax returns measure income, not net worth, as I will explain.
One of Donald Trump’s claims to presidential competence is his business and financial success, and so he should want voters to see the proof beyond the gilded staircases. He could enhance his credibility on the point by releasing his tax returns. ...
Mr. Trump should release his returns going back at least a decade before Super Tuesday on March 1 so Republican voters can know what they’re voting for. In addition to showing how much he’s paid in taxes, the records would help clarify how much money he’s made or lost from his various businesses. Are his real-estate ventures as profitable as he purports?
In the Democratic presidential primary, Bernie Sanders is calling for a political revolution, saying his movement can sweep in policy changes that would seem impossible in traditional American politics.
One of the ideas Mr. Sanders has advanced is more revolutionary than it looks at first glance: much higher taxes on the highest earners, so high they would reach or even pass the point after which higher tax rates mean less revenue instead of more.
Mr. Sanders has proposed a headline top tax rate of 52 percent, applying only to incomes over $10 million. But that’s just the federal income tax. When you combine it with other taxes that apply to income, like existing payroll taxes and new ones Mr. Sanders would impose to pay for Social Security, single-payer health care and family leave, and then add those on top of taxes levied by state governments, it would add up to a combined tax rate of over 73 percent on the highest incomes, more than 20 points higher than today. That’s in the average state — maximum rates in high-tax jurisdictions like California and New York City would be even higher.
What is Hillary Clinton’s attitude toward Wall Street? The question evokes ... heated and overly confident responses online, even among Democrats. Mrs. Clinton is deep in the pocket of Wall Street, as evidenced by her lucrative speeches to Goldman Sachs. Or she is a progressive fighter with a smart and sophisticated plan to rein in Wall Street’s excesses. ...
There is no right answer. She is either of these things, depending on how your brain processes information. On tax policy, Mrs. Clinton has a strong team in place and has put forth some sensible proposals, focusing the weight of her tax increases on those who earn more than $5 million annually. Some observers subtract the evidence of being too friendly to Wall Street, focusing on her detailed policy proposals. Consider her first major tax proposal of the campaign, on capital gains. Rather than suggest that we abolish the capital gains preference, she proposed a gradual step-down in rates depending on the length of time an investor holds assets, with the lowest rate of 20 percent available after five years.
Did Donald Trump violate the law January 28 by involving his private foundation in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination?
Maybe -- and maybe not, according to three practitioners specializing in the nexus of tax and nonprofit law. But all agreed that Trump's actions put front and center why Congress needs to take a serious look at the growing connections between the charitable world and partisan politics, with a focus on what will make for sound policy.
Trump clearly used the charitable foundation under his control to further his campaign for the White House. But that may not be illegal.
Spit-balling about how to fix the IRS, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said an audience member’s suggestion to tap Mitt Romney to do it would be a “really interesting suggestion.”
“A Mitt Romney or a Michael Bloomberg would be great,” he said, musing about a one-year appointment to turn it around.
“He went out and took care of the Olympics and he did that for free,” Kasich added, recalling Romney’s highly praised effort to turn around the struggling Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 1999. “I’m going to send him an email tonight.”
The major tax break that Republican presidential candidates are most eager to ax happens to be one that disproportionately benefits Democratic states.
Repealing the federal deduction for state and local taxes would make 23.6% of U.S. households pay an average of $2,348 more to the Internal Revenue Service for 2016. But those costs—almost $1.3 trillion over a decade—aren’t evenly spread, according to new estimates from two researchers at the Urban Institute, a think tank.
Ranked by the average potential tax increase, the top 13 states (including Washington, D.C.), as well as 16 of the top 17, voted twice for President Barack Obama. None of the four early-voting states that will winnow the Republican primary field—Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina—is higher than 26th. And nearly one-third of the cost would be paid by residents of California and New York, two solidly Democratic states. ...
“After you’re told that your tax plan will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, you need something to be on the chopping block,” said the Urban Institute’s Kim Rueben, who analyzed the deduction in a draft research paper with Frank Sammartino. “And the fact that more of the [tax] benefits go to blue states rather than red states, I think, feeds into this.” ...
With the first real votes being cast in the presidential race on Monday, this is an opportune moment to do some last-minute comparison shopping on the candidate tax reform plans. On this issue there’s a lot to cheer about. All the Republican candidates have crafted plans that would slash tax rates for everyone and most would vastly simplify the thousands of pages of IRS tax code too.
The chart shows how low tax rates would go under the Republican plans. ...
All of this contrasts sharply with the two Democratic candidate plans.
Fundamental tax reform is a fantasy. Now, let's get to work on improving our tax code.
It is an article of faith in national politics that the reform of the federal tax code is what’s standing between us and faster growth, higher productivity, better jobs, and whatever other good outcome you want to ascribe to this endeavor.
Well, riffing off of a) my own observations from decades in the trenches of this argument and b) this speech by President Obama’s chief economist Jason Furman, I disagree. Sure, there’s a lot of brush in the tax code that ought to be cleared out, some of which I’ll discuss in a moment. But these days, “tax reform” mostly means selling big, regressive tax cuts that will breed magic ponies by the herd. Instead of getting bogged down in an argument that has and will continue to lead nowhere, we’d be much better off to consider tweaks that fall far short of large-scale reform but could help—and have helped—in important ways.
Hillary Clinton would enact a number of tax policies that would raise taxes on individual and business income.
Hillary Clinton’s plan would raise tax revenue by $498 billion over the next decade on a static basis. However, the plan would end up collecting $191 billion over the next decade when accounting for decreased economic output in the long run.
A majority of the revenue raised by Clinton’s plan would come from a cap on itemized deductions, the Buffett Rule, and a 4 percent surtax on taxpayers with incomes over $5 million.
Clinton’s proposals to alter the long-term capital gains rate schedule would actually reduce revenue on both a static and dynamic basis due to increased incentives to delay capital gains realizations.
According to the Tax Foundation’s Taxes and Growth Model, the plan would reduce GDP by 1 percent over the long-term due to slightly higher marginal tax rates on capital and labor.
On a static basis, the tax plan would lead to 0.7 percent lower after-tax income for the top 10 percent of taxpayers and 1.7 percent lower income for the top 1 percent. When accounting for reduced GDP, after-tax incomes of all taxpayers would fall by at least 0.9 percent.
Most of the proposals that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have pitched for taxing the rich won’t go anywhere if Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives, as expected.
But spokesmen for both of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination said this week that they could take executive action, bypassing Congress, to go after a shorter list: the carried-interest tax advantage that investment-fund managers receive, corporate inversions that companies use to move their tax addresses offshore and -- in Sanders’s case, at least -- a few other parts of the tax code that benefit high-income taxpayers.
Their larger plans for individual income taxes include Sanders’s proposal to increase income-tax rates to levels unseen since 1981 and Clinton’s pitch for a 4 percent surcharge on the nation’s 34,000 or so highest-income taxpayers. Those are almost certainly dead on arrival. Without them, neither candidate could raise enough to finance their most expensive programs.
Donald Trump unapologetically boasts that he fully exploits the tax code. He wants to pay as little as possible to the government. “I mean, I pay as little as possible. I use every single thing in the book. And I have great people,” he said. Trump has not released his tax returns, though now he says he is “working on” it.
Hillary Clinton last week lunged into her most flagrant fit of hypocrisy yet.
With Bernie Sanders surging, she took new aim at the rich — including their use of tax dodges.
She told MSNBC: “We can go after some of these schemes … the kind of misclassifying of income, trying to make it look like it’s a capital gain, when it’s really ordinary income, going ahead and routing income through the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands or wherever.”
Huh. Bloomberg News reported in 2014 on the Clintons’ use of a prime tax dodge: They put their Chappaqua home into a “residence trust” in 2010. Such trusts can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.
Meanwhile, the Clintons’ family wealth has grown big-time thanks to firms with significant holdings in places like . . . the Caymans.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed raising the estate-tax rate and increasing the number of households that would face the tax.
The plan is the latest part of Mrs. Clinton’s strategy to raise taxes on high-income and wealthy Americans, which her campaign said would raise a total of $400 billion to $500 billion over the next decade. ...
In her plan, the tax would apply to estates exceeding $3.5 million per person and at a 45% top rate. Under current law, reached in a compromise between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, the per-person exemption is $5.45 million and the top rate is 40%. As a result, the tax would hit about 0.4% of estates each year, up from 0.2% today. ...
One idea from Mr. Obama she hasn’t embraced is repealing what’s known as the step up in basis, the tax rule that lets capital assets pass to heirs without paying income taxes on the appreciation in value.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s call Tuesday to increase taxes on the wealthy and close “loopholes” didn’t address the candidate’s own moves to shield at least part of the value of her New York home from the estate tax.
On Thursday Hillary Clinton released the much-anticipated details of her paid family-leave plan, and those details are further evidence of a stark divide between her and Bernie Sanders on the topic of taxes. The candidates agree on a lot of things, but on taxes Clinton’s and Sanders’s positions represent markedly different visions of society.
The gulf between the two Democrats on taxes is perhaps most evident in the debate over paid family leave. Sanders supports the FAMILY Act, which would require employees and employers to each contribute just 0.2 percent of wages, an average of roughly $2 per person, per week. Only wages up to $113,700 would be taxed, meaning the maximum contribution possible—even for the highest earners—would be $227.40 per year. Clinton, on the other hand, would rely on increased taxes on only the wealthiest Americans to fund paid leave. According to her campaign website, “American families need paid leave, and to get there, Hillary will ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. She’ll ensure that the plan is fully paid for by a combination of tax reforms impacting the most fortunate.”...
This paper analyzes presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax proposal. His plan would significantly reduce marginal tax rates on individuals and businesses, increase standard deduction amounts to nearly four times current levels, and curtail many tax expenditures. His proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households. The plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over its first decade before accounting for added interest costs or considering macroeconomic feedback effects. The plan would improve incentives to work, save, and invest. However, unless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts.
If there is a social or economic need, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has a tax credit to match. She’s proposed one for businesses that institute profit-sharing plans (cost: $20 billion over 10 years); another for hiring disabled veterans; and, as of last week, a tax credit worth up to $1,200 to help families defray the cost of caring for their elderly members at home (a $10 billion, 10-year item). Coming soon: changes to Social Security to benefit workers who take time off to care for the elderly.
When it comes to paying for these “targeted” benefits, plus her other promises such as universal preschool, however, the former secretary of state has a clear principle: none of the 97 percent of U.S. households that earn $250,000 or less per year will be asked to contribute higher taxes.
If this strikes you as implausible — the Democratic equivalent of the no-tax-hike pledge Republican candidates regularly impose on themselves — we agree. There is simply no way that the federal government can meet its current fiscal commitments, plus the increased demands of an aging population, and provide the new forms of middle-class relief and business tax relief Ms. Clinton promises, while tapping only the top 3 percent of earners. ...
Eventually, our leaders will have to stop pandering to the middle class, hopefully before a crisis forces them to face facts.