Foolish Take on Trump’s Tax Return

On 8/24/16: Eric Trump said it would be “foolish” for his father to release his tax returns and subject them to scrutiny by people who don’t know what they are looking at.

It might be foolish to subject Trump's tax returns to scrutiny, but not because people won't be up to the task.

On 8/ 2/16: Warren Buffett said he is also under audit by the IRS, and proposed meeting with Trump “any time, any place” to go over each other’s tax returns together. “You’re only afraid if you’ve got something to be afraid about. Trump’s not afraid because of the IRS, he’s afraid because of you.”

Eric says, There is “no tax attorney in the world who will tell you to release your tax returns while you’re under a standard routine audit.”

Fred Goldberg, a former IRS commissioner and practicing tax lawyer, said on 8/23/16: "The sooner Trump releases his entire returns, the better."

"It may be inconvenient for Trump to release his tax returns but we all know — and the IRS has confirmed — that nothing prevents any of us from releasing our tax returns any time we want."

"Inevitably, his refusal to release his returns raises a question: What is Trump hiding?"

Eric Trump said his father’s returns -- a stack of documents “five feet tall” -- would reveal little.

When Eric says little, he probably means little tax paid. Trump told George Stephanopoulus on 5/13/16 that "he fights very hard to pay as little tax as possible." Notice that Trump doesn't say as little tax as legally possible.

Trump feels justified letting "losers" pay a bigger share because the government is wasteful (unlike Trump whose private plane and helicopter are tax deductible business expenses), but you'd think Trump would try to channel some of his tax savings to worthy private charities. But the Washington Post contacted 250 of the charities most closely associated with Trump, and found only one personal contribution for less than $10,000 between 1/1/09 and 5/23/16.

Goldberg says, "There is, however, a first step that Trump has no excuse for not taking. He can and should immediately release the first two pages of his Form 1040, along with his Schedule A, for the past 20 years. This would tell us how much he makes, how much he pays in taxes, and how much he contributes to charity."

"Releasing this information would have no impact on any pending or future IRS audit of Trump. Zero. None. It is a risk-free first step with no downside."

"The first two pages plus the Schedule A of the Clintons' 2015 tax return tell us they made $10.6 million; that they made charitable contributions of $1.0 million; and that they paid federal taxes of $3.6 million, for an effective tax rate of 34 percent. We have that same information about the Clintons for the past 20 years."