During the second presidential debate on Sunday night, Donald Trump clearly admitted to not paying income taxes. I know that Trump and his surrogates argue that he pays millions in taxes through property, employee taxes, sales taxes and other business related taxes. But that narrative misses a very important element that Trump and his supporters don’t want you to notice. It has to do with what money he uses to pay the business taxes. But, first, listen to how Donald Trump responded to the question about whether he pays personal income taxes.
In this 1:30 excerpt from Sunday’s second presidential debate, Donald Trump clearly admits using his losses to avoid paying personal income taxes:
As many of you know, in 1995, Donald Trump reported on several tax returns that he lost almost one billion dollars. Yes, that is billion with a “b”. Many assumed, based on those tax returns that Donald Trump had exercised a provision of the tax code that allows him to apply that massive loss over many years in order to offset any money that he has made during the following years.
The Donald Trump narrative is that Donald Trump is using the tax code to his advantage, which he is. What Donald Trump and surrogates do not tell you is that the losses, almost a billion, were surely not Donald Trump’s alone. Like most large corporations, Donald Trump uses other peoples’ monies – through stock options and via loans from banks or others. When Donald Trump reports losing almost a billion dollars he is reporting losing other peoples’ money, either all of it or a substantial part of it.
He is taking the losses and applying them to future personal earnings effectively cancelling his personal income taxes over a number of years. He is doing this not with his money, but from the losses that others suffered for his business acumen.
But it gets worse. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, almost all of you pay the IRS for personal income taxes on the money you take home. If you are a business owner, you know perfectly well that losing billions or even millions does not likely leave you in business as lenders are unlikely to lend you money in the future. Therefore, almost all of you pay some sort of personal income tax each year.
But what about the notion that Donald Trump pays taxes on employee wages, business property or other business related expenses? Those of you who own a business knows that the taxes that your business pays are funded by your customers. If your customers aren’t buying or using your goods or services, then you are not paying taxes. Business property taxes are also funded by those who pay to use your property.
In other words, Donald Trump isn’t paying income taxes on money he pockets. He is using other peoples’ money, that he lost with his business acumen, to avoid paying personal income taxes.
The other taxes he says he pays are taxes paid for by his customers.
So how does that make you feel? How will you feel next time you write a check to the IRS?