The President of the United States has demanded a business deduction for private holiday homes, aircraft and hairdressing expenses. He has also booked debts from multiple years back, revelations show.
Tax professor Ole Gjems-Onstad has plowed through the New York Times’ large document on President Donald Trump’s tax returns for the past 20 years.
– What has been revealed is not so terrible for tax purposes. Everyone in the US does tax planning, much harder than we are used to, says Ole Gjems-Onstad, professor of tax law at BI Norwegian Business School, to VG.
President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who is serving a sentence for tax evasion and violation of the election campaign law, now says that the revelations to The New York Times, give him the right to claim that the president has committed a number of types of fraud during his career.
“Based on what I know, and what’s coming out now, he could be the first incumbent president to go straight from the White House to jail,” Cohen said in an SMS interview with the New York Daily.
According to The Washington Post, former intelligence and security experts are raising serious questions about whether the president should be shown the confidence to have knowledge of US secrets and interests.
“From a national security perspective, it opens up an insane vulnerability,” Larry Pfeiffer, who until recently served as chief of staff at the CIA, told the Washington Post. Pfeiffer is currently director of the Hayden Center for Intelligence at George Mason University.
Before he took over the White House, the reality series “The Apprentice” was one of the things Donald Trump was best known for. The show has also contributed heavily to the business mogul’s wealth.
The revelations to the New York Times show that the accounting of the income from the television program has been important for Trump in avoiding paying taxes for ten of the last 15 years.
Loses big on business
He avoided paying taxes in part because he demanded tax exemptions for the use of everything from leisure property, to hairdressing expenses and private jets during the years he participated in the program.
But another important explanation is that many of Trump’s businesses, which he owns and operates himself, have suffered heavy and persistent losses.
– He is a boastful pope, not at all as big a businessman as he wants it to be, says Gjems-Onstad.
The losses are booked so that it has largely exempted Trump from paying federal income tax on the billion-dollar revenues from “The Apprentice” and associated brand agreements and investments.
Being a presenter in prime time made Trump a more attractive brand for investors. He also secured half of the proceeds from the show. In total, this amounted to 427.4 million dollars, well over four billion kroner, writes the New York Times.
The effective tax rate paid by the richest one percent of Americans would cause Trump to pay more than $ 100 million in taxes, the newspaper writes.
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Instead, he paid a modest $ 750 ($ 7,000) in federal income tax in 2016 when he won the presidential election and $ 750 in income tax the first year as president in 2017.
– He is a man who has contributed little with tax money to the community. But many will probably say that he has, after all, created many jobs, the BI professor points out.
“Saves” losses for later years
Throughout his career, Donald Trump’s business losses have often reached sums that are greater than what can be used to reduce the tax on other income within a year.
But the tax model in the United States allows business owners in some cases to present “residual losses”, to reduce taxes in future years. It has been used extensively.
“I love depreciation,” Trump said during a presidential debate in 2016, the New York Times notes.
The information about Trump’s tax returns that The New York Times is now bringing to the market is information that President Donald Trump has refused to publish, contrary to what has been the case with the president’s predecessors. Despite the fact that Trump has repeatedly promised to publish the information.
– No tax evader
Gjems-Onstad points out that the revelations are not about tax evasion.
– You can not call Trump a tax evader. But he secures himself to the maximum and conducts tax adjustment in a country where the deduction possibilities are great, says the BI professor.
The economic challenges are in line for the president: Over the next four years, Trump will have to service loans for which he is personally responsible, equivalent to $ 300 million.
– The figures presented by the New York Times do not provide a comprehensive presentation. Trump also has assets. We have no balance that shows whether he can go bankrupt, says Gjems-Onstad.
also read Trump strikes back: “Fake news”
The “picture of the rich” cracks
The New York Times article is based on tax returns from over 20 years – documents that Trump himself did not want to publish. He is the first president in the history of the United States to have denied access to his tax returns.
The newspaper writes that the insight into the tax returns reveals a president with an economy under severe pressure and millions of dollars in debt. In 2018, for example, Trump announced in the revelation that he had earned at least $ 434.9 million.
The tax records, on the other hand, give a completely different portrait of his bottom line, namely 47.4 million in losses.
Recent revelations show that a growing portion of Trump’s revenue comes from businesses that could lead to, or have already created, conflicts of interest with the presidency.
The tax revelations about Trump come just two days before the important, first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
– The articles are part of the election campaign. The New York Times is not neutral, but a newspaper that runs hard against Trump and wants to create unrest around him, claims Professor Ole Gjems-Onstad.
For the record: The New York Times has been behind several major revelations about Donald Trump and his circle since he became president; among other things about the Russia investigation, the Ukraine case and the president’s economy. The revelations have in several cases been the result of tangible evidence, such as the tax returns of the president’s father, Fred Trump. The president and his supporters have repeatedly accused the New York Times of “fake news”, but have not succeeded in refuting the revelations.
The Democrats were quick to use the tax case for all it’s worth. Already on Sunday night, Joe Biden’s election campaign apparatus began selling stickers that read: “I have paid more taxes than Donald Trump.”