Thursday, March 16, 2017

That tax return

John Cassidy at the New Yorker looks at the matter of the Trump tax return (partial) leak. 

It is a curious thing - the leak has largely worked in Trump's immediate favour, raising suspicion that he was in fact behind it.  It lets him claim that he has been a good tax paying citizen (once, 12 years ago, at least), and to huff and puff about illegal leaks used by the press.

But in the longer term, it raises questions about the sense of Republican policies to remove the very tax that led to Trump paying a realistic amount:
According to the return, which Johnston also posted on his Web site, Trump and his wife, Melania, had taxable income of about a hundred and fifty-three million dollars in 2005, and he paid about $36.5 million in federal income tax. That’s an effective tax rate of about 23.9 per cent, which is a long way from the zero per cent that many people, myself included, had speculated about last year.

Almost as noteworthy was the fact that most of the tax Trump paid was captured by the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is a backup tax designed to insure that people with a lot of deductions don’t entirely escape taxes. Because Trump took a write-down of more than a hundred million dollars in 2005, his initial tax liability was just $5.3 million. If not for the Alternative Minimum Tax, which he and other Republicans want to get rid of, his effective tax rate would have been about 3.5 per cent. Because he was liable to the A.M.T., he was forced to pay an additional thirty-one or so million dollars.
And, it also raises suspicions as to why only one return is leaked - do the rest of them since then look much, much worse for the Trump image? 

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