Presidential Candidates & Their Tax Returns-Political Voyeurism or Invasion of Privacy?

Ronald Reagan: Releasing His Tax Returns

Was A “Violation Of Privacy”

2Reagan resisted releasing his tax returns while he was the Governor of California and only released his returns when running against Jimmy Carter after Carter released his returns.  Neither Carter’s nor Reagan’s tax returns were particularly enlightening nor made any difference in the election. 

Romney 2012:  When Romney reluctantly released his returns during the 2012 presidential election, the main stream media (MSM) used his off shore accounts and his effective tax rate against him, even though Mitt’s returns were 100% lawful.  The info in his returns drove a few news cycles and gave Obama a couple of sound bites to use against Romney.

IRS Vs MSM:  The legal compliance or lawfulness of one’s tax returns is under the purvue of the IRS, not the MSM.  In fact, the MSM talking heads probably would not know how to fill out even a simple return.  They would hand it over to one of their “analyst” to scour through the details. 

I cannot remember any candidate’s tax return that had any impact on the qualifications of the candidate for the office they sought.  Since none of them were under prosecution by the IRS for tax evasion, or subject to a collection order for taxes owed, I assumed that their tax returns met the IRS regulations.  After that, I really do not care. 

Political Voyeurism: 

Need or Want?  Clintons?:  The MSM cannot tell you why they NEED to see a candidate’s tax return.  In the case of the Clinton’s, career politicians in the first order, I assume they have structured their personal finances to appear simple and straight forward so when scrutinized by the MSM, they would come out smelling like a rose.  I am sure they have the perfect ratio of charitable donations and pay a respectable tax rate.  But, would the Clintons open up both the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation to the same level of scrutiny as their tax returns.  Not on your life.   

Donald Trump’s Tax Returns:  The focus today is on Donald Trump’s tax returns.  He has already filed his financial disclosure statement that is required of all candidates seeking the office of the President.  There is a great deal of information regarding Trump’s financial activities including his net worth and income.  But, since the MSM did not find any juicy tidbits in his financial disclosure, they are seeking a new carcass to scour. 

Ongoing IRS Audit:  Trump has stated that he is currently being audited by the IRS and that his legal team advises him not to release his returns until the audit has been completed.  Even when pressed to release his returns by Greta Van Susteren, an attorney and Fox News host, she had to admit that if she were his attorney she would advise him NOT to release his return until after the audit was completed.  No one in their right mind would invite 350,000,000 additional pair of eyes to help the IRS spot something to question in his return!  Especially when Trump’s return is most likely very complex and involves international business dealings and thus a degree of tax expertise that few possess. 

Political Gamble:

The MSM has one goal in this election, Elect Hillary Clinton. 

So, why should Trump release his tax return?  Just because Mitt Romney made a mistake and released his and is now demanding that Trump release his returns? 

There are No Benefits for Trump to Release His Returns

If he releases them, any off shore holdings will be questioned; his effective tax rate will be mocked; his charitable contributions will be denigrated; and his use of the current tax code to minimize his taxes will be held up as tax evasion.  He will receive no kudos for releasing his returns and there is only downside to his releasing them.

He will have to defend himself as to why he will not release them. 

He told Clinton employee and now ABC pundit George Stephanopoulos that information on his tax return was “None of Your Business”.  Remember, Stephanopoulos was the one who blindsided Romney in a 2012 debate regarding why Republicans wanted to basically outlaw birth control.  This was a bogus question as no modern Republican has ever had the belief that birth control should be outlawed.  Romney made the mistake of trying to answer a question that was only used to nail Romney.  Romney fell for it as he did with releasing his tax return.  

Trump has stated from the beginning when asked about his returns that he will release them only after the audit has been closed.  He should stick with this position and but perhaps create a distillation of his return, prepared by a CPA, that shows the relevant information from his return just in case.   

I cannot imagine how many pages his return would be if they included all of his business operations and accompanying schedules.  If he had used the Clinton model, he would have hidden his business operations in Corporations and only taken a simple salary.  This way, his return would only show ordinary income and expenses.

Either way, this topic will not go away and Trump should have a standard sound bite that he and his surrogates can use when queried on his tax returns.  He is “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”  May as well limit the exposure by not giving the MSM the matches and kindling with which to try to start a forest fire.

There will be many more supposed “Gotchas” thrown at Trump before this MSM circus is over in November!


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