September 27th – The New York Times publishes another article about Trump’s taxes. This one seems to have the real dirt however. Somehow, the NYT obtained Trump’s actual taxes, from an anonymous source, and published them (not verbatim) without regard for privacy laws. It seems, however, that the journalists behind the article seems to have written a longform propaganda piece rather than a news article. In fact, the very first paragraph is refuted later in the article – but most readers won’t read the whole thing, they’ll usually just read the headline.
The second paragraph of the article states Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency (2016), and the same figure for his first year in office (2017).
Using these figures as your immediate introduction is a cleaver literary technique called framing, a form of writing that serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, where an introductory or main narrative sets the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories. Since the authors are introducing these figures before the body of the article (encompassing the whole second paragraph), it isn’t out of the ordinary to be suspicious of the authors’ motives.
Semantics aside, the authors then state that Trump only paid those amounts for 2016 and 2017, leading into a multi-page thesis on the intricacies of Trump’s taxes. It takes a bit of reading before you reach the contradicting information.
As the article states,
Each time, he requested an extension to file his 1040; and each time, he made the required payment to the I.R.S. for income taxes he might owe — $1 million for 2016 and $4.2 million for 2017. But virtually all of that liability was washed away when he eventually filed, and most of the payments were rolled forward to cover potential taxes in future years.
Each time Trump requested an extension to file his 1040, he was required to pay the I.R.S. all of the income tax that he might owe at the time of request, which according to the NYT, was $1 million for 2016 and $4.2 million for 2017. The authors try to discredit these payments as a wash, since most of the payments were rolled forward to cover potential taxes in future years.
What that means however, is that Trump overpaid the I.R.S., and used that overpayment to cover the next couple years in need be. That figure at the beginning of the article? That’s the minimum amount he owes the I.R.S.
While this figure might seem low to a lot of us, Americans need to realize that Trump is taking advantage of the same tax system which both parties have had a hand in constructing and have been benefiting from over the past half century.
Ethically, yes, they should be paying more, but since we keep electing the same politicians, the same ones who manipulated the system to begin with, the tax code never gets the reform it needs, and never will if we don’t stop voting tribalistically.