Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Telegraph: Trump tax return: Leaked document from 2005 reveals president wrote off $100 million in losses

President Donald Trump earned more than $150 million in 2005 and paid $38 million in income taxes, according to the two pages of his tax returns released by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night.

“ . . . the Donald Trump tax returns released last night seem more smokescreen than smoking gun. What started with suspicion of what was in them has now becomes suspicion of whether the Trump team leaked them as a diversion.Dan Rather

It sure smells fishy to me, too.

Here is Robert Reich's take on the situation:

Trump wrote off $100 million in business losses to reduce his federal taxes in 2005, according to forms made public tonight by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show.

By claiming losses from previous years, Trump was able to save tens of millions of dollars in taxes that he otherwise might have owed. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, an effective tax rate of 25 percent.

In typical Trump fashion, the White House responded not by disputing the facts but by dissing the messenger, stating “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago.”

The fact that Trump paid any taxes at all is something of a surprise. But, then again, this was only 2005. That was probably the last year he paid up.

I’d also love to know how much interest he deducted on outstanding loans – and to which Russian oligarchs.

And Dan Rather has great insight:

Well the Donald Trump tax returns released last night seem more smokescreen than smoking gun. What started with suspicion of what was in them has now becomes suspicion of whether the Trump team leaked them as a diversion.

It bears reminding that we still haven't seen any detailed filings for Mr. Trump from recent years, but in my reporter's estimation, as important as that is, there are bigger stories to which we need to be devoting attention.

There is a lot of important news swirling around and a robust journalistic organization has reporters digging in many corners. But for me, right now, the top three stories are, in no particular order:

THE RUSSIA CONNECTION - a foreign power actively tried to undermine our election. This we know. The extent of that operation and the ties between Russia and close aides and allies to President Trump is a story that strikes at the very heart of our democratic machinery. I believe it must be investigated, by the press, by law enforcement, and by an independent bipartisan commission. I suspect we have much more to find out.

HEALTH CARE - after 7 years of complaining about Obamacare, the GOP has put forward a bill that seems to please no one except maybe its leadership in Congress, and it seems, at least from his initial response, President Trump. Will the President continue to try to own an effort that is spiraling (death spiraling?) out of control? Will infighting in his own party doom the bill? How will the public respond when it learns about the details, especially Mr. Trump's strong base of older and poorer voters who stand to face some serious hurt? The success of a presidency can rise and fall with early legislative action in its term in office. This is a story that couldn't be bigger in terms of policy, and politics.

NORTH KOREA - I know no one really wants to have to think about this, but we have what seems to be an increasingly provocative and potentially unstable leader armed with nuclear weapons, and missile technology that seems to be rapidly improving. I would make the case that this is already a foreign policy crisis for which there are no good options. It brings in a volatile mix of China and our allies Japan and South Korea. A misstep here, diplomatically or militarily, could have tremendously dire ramifications.

For me, these are the big three stories I'm tracking. Other ones include the rise of hate rhetoric and anti-Semitism, the willful disregard by this administration for science and climate change, and on a lighter note, the looming start of the baseball season. We need some time for a world outside of politics and fear, and in my chest hope beats eternal.

    By Barney Henderson, New York