The headline in the Wall Street Journal reads, “Trump’s Tax Law Echoed Through His Finances During White House Years”. I take that to mean Trump signed a tax law that was designed to benefit him. The WSJ headline instead should read, “Trump’s Accountants and Tax Attorneys Complied with New Tax Law”.
Here is a key quote from the article.
The 2017 tax law didn’t change the core features of the U.S. tax system that have enabled Mr. Trump to amass significant wealth while frequently reporting negative income for tax purposes and often paying little in income tax.
In other words, the headline is a big fat fucking lie. There is nothing in the “Trump Tax Law” that fundamentally changed the U.S. tax system that advantaged or disadvantaged Trump and his businesses.
A headline reader will miss the opening paragraph which illustrates a balanced view the article takes.
The tax law that Donald Trump signed in late 2017 echoed through his finances in the following years, limiting some tax benefits for him and opening some tax-planning opportunities, according to the former president’s tax returns.
The article goes on to give an overview of income and deductions, taxes paid and not (due to losses carried forward), and even a tax credit Trump’s accountants failed to take. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any revelation of any illegal activity. Here’s some bullet points.
- He hit the state and local tax deduction limit in NY. He could only deduct $10k on more than $10 million in state and local taxes.
- He took advantage of business deductions for pass-through entities.
- He was subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax.
- He suffered losses in the millions which carried forward to mitigate income.
- He was audited from 2015 through 2019 along with some prior years.
- He took advantage of tax breaks authorized by Congress regarding conservation easements.
- He was unable to deduct certain expenses that he had in the past.
- He didn’t apply for stimulus payments he, his wife, and son were entitled to under the law.
More fake news. Move along. Nothing to see here.