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Editorial: Trump’s tax fraud should concern Americans

President+Donald+J.+Trump+signs+the+%241.5+trillion+tax+cut+bill%2C+stacked+on+his+desk%2C+in+the+Oval+Office+on+December+22%2C+2017+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+The+New+York+Times+recently+released+an+investigative+report+that+confirmed+Trump+committed+approximately+%24413+million+of+tax+evasion+over+several+years.
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Editorial: Trump’s tax fraud should concern Americans

President Donald J. Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on December 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times recently released an investigative report that confirmed Trump committed approximately $413 million of tax evasion over several years.

President Donald J. Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on December 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times recently released an investigative report that confirmed Trump committed approximately $413 million of tax evasion over several years.

Mike Theiler/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

President Donald J. Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on December 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times recently released an investigative report that confirmed Trump committed approximately $413 million of tax evasion over several years.

Mike Theiler/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

Mike Theiler/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

President Donald J. Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill, stacked on his desk, in the Oval Office on December 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times recently released an investigative report that confirmed Trump committed approximately $413 million of tax evasion over several years.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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While the American people were consumed with Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings this week, The New York Times released a massive report detailing an 18-month investigation that revealed the extent of President Trump’s elusive tax behavior through the course of his life.

The New York Times article details the lengths the president’s parents went to in order to avoid paying taxes on more than $1 billion they gave their children. This groundbreaking report deserves far more attention than it’s received, and it exposes the president for the hypocrite he is.

According to the article, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion to their children in a way that escaped estate, income and gift taxes. For that sum of money they should have paid about $550 million, but the Trumps only paid about 5 percent, or $52.2 million of those taxes. They escaped the heavy inheritance and gift taxes by submitting tax returns that undervalued their properties, hiding money in shell companies and faking invoices with charges that weren’t real, among other schemes.

The scam went past finding the usual loopholes that the wealthy find. What the Trumps did was commit tax fraud on a massive scale.

Recall that the president ran his campaign on the premise that he was a self-made businessman who attained the level of success in business that he had without any help from his father — barring a “small loan of $1 million.” The New York Times article suggests that Trump’s father gifted him the equivalent of $413 million in today’s currency in gifts over the course of the president’s lifetime that he never expected to be paid back for. The image of the self-made man is defeated by these numbers.

Trump also campaigned on the idea of tax reform to help lower-income families, while he possibly abused the tax system for his own personal gain to the tune of $413 million — a hugely hypocritical stance for the president.

Besides the utter hypocrisy of the president on the subject of taxes, Trump’s tax evasion has more serious implications. The New York Times has evidence that Trump owns shell companies involved in the transactions and his signature is on forms that approve this illegal flow of money, so there’s a very good possibility that the president has committed crimes. He won’t likely be prosecuted, since the statute of limitations for these crimes is over. However, the state of New York and the federal government could still force him to pay the taxes he evaded plus interest.

This is an issue citizens — especially those who voted for Trump for his stance on taxes — should care about. Unfortunately, the timing of The New York Times’ piece was not optimal for getting the message across to a wide audience. It got buried in the news about the contested Kavanaugh confirmation process, and since then there has been little talk about the revelation.

But we now have solid evidence of crimes the president has committed, and this needs to be followed up by news organizations and Congress — and once and for all, Trump finally needs to release his tax returns.

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Editorial: Trump’s tax fraud should concern Americans