Trump’s Tax Troubles

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In just the few days since the New York Times published its latest groundbreaking report, Donald Trump has faced ongoing fallout from his “legally dubious” tax avoidance that even his own lawyers thought wouldn’t hold up to IRS scrutiny – as well as new reporting on his various efforts  to avoid paying millions in taxes. The ongoing reporting underscores the urgency of Trump releasing his tax returns before Election Day. While his campaign has objected to these stories, they refuse to release his tax returns – including just-filed returns that would not be under audit – to provide evidence of any untruths.

His behavior also raises important questions, including one that was posited by the New York Times Editorial Board: “Why would a man who has spent most of his professional life avoiding the shared responsibility of taxes all of a sudden care about helping others, especially those less fortunate?”

NEW Reporting

New York Times: Donald Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes: “Tax experts who reviewed the newly obtained documents for The New York Times said Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance maneuver, conjured from ambiguous provisions of highly technical tax court rulings, clearly pushed the edge of the envelope of what tax laws permitted at the time. ‘Whatever loophole existed was not ‘exploited’ here, but stretched beyond any recognition,’ said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who helped draft tax legislation in the early 1990s.”

Wall Street Journal: Income Taxes Aside: Donald Trump’s Other Tax-Avoidance Moves: “The Journal has found several additional examples of state and local tax issues for Mr. Trump and his companies that are little known or not previously reported on.”

  1. “A vendor said in a legal deposition in 2008 that Mr. Trump refused to pay $48,000 in sales taxes on draperies for a Las Vegas property.”
  1. “At least five federal, state and local tax collection agencies took out at least 26 liens on Mr. Trump’s businesses and him personally since the late 1990s due to claims that Mr. Trump or his businesses didn’t pay sales taxes, withholding taxes, or other corporate taxes.”
  1. “The biggest amount in liens and warrants, totaling about $11.8 million, were for corporate taxes imposed on his Indiana casino business in the early 2000s.”

Washington Post: This is the portrait of Donald Trump that his charity bought for $20,000: “Tax experts say that if Trump hung the painting at one of his homes or businesses, he may have violated laws against “self-dealing.” Those laws prohibit charity leaders from using money from their nonprofits to buy things for themselves, or for their businesses. In recent weeks, The Washington Post has reported other instances in which Trump may have violated those rules.”

Additional Fall-Out

New York Times Editorial Board: Avoiding Taxes, Trump-Style: “Indeed, even as Mr. Trump’s lawyers were advising him against this approach, one tax expert wrote that trying to find legal support for it was like trying to find evidence for ‘the existence of the Loch Ness monster.’”

Washington Post: A big, dirty secret from Donald Trump’s tax returns has been exposed: “Experts had missed Trump’s maneuver, Kleinbard said, because they did not think that it would have been allowed at the time… ‘The real surprise here is that he apparently got away with it’ … Kleinbard said that he would have enjoyed bringing Trump to court on behalf of the authorities in order to force him to pay up. ‘I would have been certain that I would have won.'”

Vox: Two experts say Donald Trump should be investigated for criminal tax evasion: “Various aspects of this almost certainly violate the laws governing charities (he’s already been sanctioned by the state of New York), but several experts are also raising the question of whether Trump is guilty of criminal tax evasion… But both Philip Hackney, a former IRS attorney now working as a professor of tax law, and Adam Chodorow, a tax law professor at Arizona State University, have written that the elements exist to at least begin an investigation.”

New York Times: How Donald Trump Avoided Paying Taxes Using Other People’s Money: “The story of how Mr. Trump sidestepped a potentially ruinous tax bill emerged from documents recently discovered by The Times during a search of casino bankruptcy filings. Mr. Trump structured his companies to allow him to have lucrative personal tax advantages, while limiting his personal liability should business go bad.”

Vanity Fair: How Donald Trump Used Other People’s Money to Avoid Paying Taxes: “Donald Trump is both unapologetic about using “other people’s money” whenever possible, and proud of the way he allegedly avoided paying income tax for years by writing off nearly a billion dollars in losses, as The New York Times first reported last month. Now, a new trove of documents obtained by the Times reveals how Trump combined both of those things to wipe out his liabilities, using investors’ money to avoid reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income in the form of canceled debt on his floundering casino empire—a maneuver that even his own lawyers warned would likely get him in trouble with the I.R.S.”

Mother Jones: NYT: We’ve Figured Out How Trump Gamed the Tax System: “If I’m reading this right, the basic story is that Trump gave his banks “New Bonds” in place of their old bonds and classified the new bonds as equity shares in the casino partnership. Trump then valued the equity as equal to the old debt, thus showing no net loan forgiveness and therefore no COD income. This despite the fact that, in reality, the equity was close to worthless.”

Vox: Donald Trump used a dubious loophole to make millions in taxable income disappear: “He has previously boasted publicly of his extensive and detailed knowledge of the tax code, which seems like a good prima facie reason to at least look into it a little. And the New York Times’s latest revelations show a man who was deliberately and knowingly aggressive in his tax strategies in other realms of his personal finances, intentionally pushing forward with a strategy his lawyers said would likely be disallowed.”

MSNBC: Trump stretched tax loopholes ‘beyond any recognition’: “The fact that Donald Trump didn’t pay federal income taxes for many years is not in dispute – because the Republican presidential candidate admitted it during a nationally televised debate. There is some question, however, about whether or not Trump’s exploitation of tax loopholes was entirely legal…. Don’t try this at home. Trump has tried to get away with tax maneuvers the typical American should not attempt.”

Los Angeles Times: Clinton renews calls for Trump to release tax returns following report he skirted laws: “Trump’s attorneys advised him at the time that if he were audited, the Internal Revenue Service would not look favorably upon the tactic, according to the report. For months now, Trump has eschewed releasing his tax returns, claiming he was under audit by the IRS. However, even while being audited, Trump could still release his returns, experts have said.”

Slate: We Now Have an Even Clearer Picture of How Brazenly Trump Tried to Avoid Paying Taxes: “Now, thanks to the latest investigation of Trump’s taxes by the New York Times, our portrait of Trump as a taxpayer is a little bit clearer: He isn’t just a businessman who’s so brilliant he managed to lose, either outright or on paper, close to $1 billion. He’s also one who tried to push the law to its limits—and perhaps past them—to avoid paying the tax man.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Avoiding Taxes, Trump-Style

New York Times

Editorial Board

November 1, 2016

Donald Trump’s claim that he was smart for figuring out how not to pay federal income taxes was obnoxious when he said it, at least for the millions of Americans who pay their fair share. Now we learn that he was able to avoid some of those taxes decades ago with a tactic that is illegal now and was highly dubious even then.

In the 1990s, with his Atlantic City casinos and other businesses tottering on the verge of collapse, Mr. Trump negotiated a deal under which his creditors — investors and banks — would forgive part of the debt in exchange for equity in partnerships he controlled. Without such swaps, Mr. Trump would have had to report the forgiven debt as income, offsetting a big portion of the $916 million loss he claimed on his tax return in 1995. That loss allowed him to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years.

It is impossible to know whether the Internal Revenue Service challenged Mr. Trump’s use of the swaps because, unlike every major party presidential nominee for nearly 40 years, he refuses to release his tax returns. But as The Times reported on Monday, the maneuver was so suspect that his lawyers advised against it.

And it’s clear that even then tax officials and federal lawmakers were hoping to end the practice because it allowed businesses and rich individuals to avoid taxes by swapping forgiven debt with equity that was worth little or nothing. Indeed, even as Mr. Trump’s lawyers were advising him against this approach, one tax expert wrote that trying to find legal support for it was like trying to find evidence for “the existence of the Loch Ness monster.”

Congress barred such swaps by corporations in 1993, and by partnerships, the business structure Mr. Trump uses, in 2004.

As is its habit, Mr. Trump’s campaign chose to regard these latest revelations as yet another display of his genius. But like any other effort to game the tax system, his tactics imposed real costs by shifting the burden to taxpayers who have no recourse to such strategies and must pay full freight, including people whose taxes are withheld and cannot shelter their income even if they want to.

It has become ever more difficult for the I.R.S. to police the kind of tax avoidance Mr. Trump has engaged in. The Republican-controlled Congress cut the I.R.S.’s budget by about $500 million in 2015, and last year the agency audited just 0.8 percent of individual taxpayers, down from 1.1 percent in 2010. Its enforcement staff has shrunk by 23 percent since 2010, to 39,000 people, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The latest disclosures about Mr. Trump’s taxes also further undercut the argument that he is uniquely qualified to fix what he has called a rigged system. Why would a man who has spent most of his professional life avoiding the shared responsibility of taxes all of a sudden care about helping others, especially those less fortunate? The truth is, of course, that he has no intention of doing so; according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Mr. Trump’s tax proposals would confer by far the greatest advantages on the wealthiest Americans.

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Statement on Trump’s Foreign Business Entanglements

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In response to new reporting from the Wall Street Journal on Donald Trump’s dangerous and unprecedented foreign business entanglements, Hillary for America deputy communications director Christina Reynolds issued the following statement:

“Donald Trump has business all around the world, and while he has failed to disclose full details of his business record, what we know is truly disturbing. The idea of a President Trump trying to negotiate with foreign leaders while having his business at stake is simply unacceptable and raises real questions about how he would handle matters of national security. This is just one more reason why he cannot be president.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

KEY POINT: “Those whom Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have worked with abroad include: the family of a developer in India who is a ruling-party politician, an Azerbaijani government minister’s son and a media company that became the Turkish president’s outlet of choice during the July 15 coup attempt.

No recent president has had a portfolio of international business interests as extensive as Mr. Trump’s—or as great a level of business engagement on his behalf by offspring, who have also played a role in his campaign.”

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: The Wall Street Journal

Military Leaders, Experts Agree: Trump is Wrong on Mosul

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This week, Donald is adding to his long history of trashing the U.S. military and disrespecting veterans and military families. Trump has been criticizing the Iraqi-led military operation in Mosul, despite the fact that U.S. military experts have called him out for his reckless and disrespectful claims.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted “The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb.” At his rally in Florida, Trump went on to say, “Our leadership is stupid. These are stupid people.” And on Monday, he gave an interview in which he said, “You see how badly that fight is going.”

Not only are many of Trump’s comments flat-out wrong, he demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of military strategy. Hillary Clinton addressed his comments yesterday in New Hampshire saying, “He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander-in-chief. It’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous.”

Military experts agree – Trump is wrong about Mosul:

New York Times: Donald Trump Is Wrong on Mosul Attack, Military Experts Say

Politico: Trump misfires on Mosul

The Hill: Mosul campaign Trump called ‘total disaster’ making gains, officials say

Wall Street Journal: Trump at Odds With Pentagon in Calling Mosul a ‘Total Disaster’

Washington Post’s Josh Rogin: Why is Trump rooting against U.S. troops in Mosul?

Jeff McCausland, retired Army colonel and former dean at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA: “What this shows is Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about military strategy.”

Robert Gates, former defense secretary: “‘When you look at the other things he’s said about the military, about how the senior officers are a disaster and so on and so forth, my guess is most folks on active duty don’t take seriously what he has to say,’ said Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary for both Bush and Obama.”

Mark Kimmitt, retired one-star Army general and former Pentagon official: “‘Strategic surprise is rarely accomplished, but tactical surprise — the how and where of low-level attacks — is kept secret,’ said Mark Kimmitt, a retired one-star Army general and former senior Pentagon official. ‘Mr. Trump does not seem to understand this critical distinction between strategy and tactics.’”

Richard A. Kohn, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina: “But the endorsements, the reverence of Patton and MacArthur, and Mr. Trump’s military assessment do not impress national security historians like Richard H. Kohn, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina: “I don’t think it really demonstrates any understanding of warfare.”

George Little, former CIA and Pentagon senior official: “Shameful that @realDonaldTrump has declared the battle for Mosul a failure before it’s really even begun. Another reason #ImWithHer.”

Peter Mansoor, retired Army colonel: “Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who aided Petraeus in Iraq, said political rhetoric such as Trump’s can affect the morale of those ‘serving in uniform at the sharp end of the spear.’”

Robert Scales, retired Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College: “Robert Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College, said the unfolding Mosul campaign is a course in Military Operations 101 that American and Iraqi armies have followed for years. A large allied force approaches the objective (Mosul, in this case) from multiple directions, establishes a loose cordon around the city, and peels away the outlying towns and villages, all the while opening an escape route for refugees and people who do not want to fight, General Scales said.”

  • “‘There are over a million innocents in the city so you want to give them an opportunity to take cover or to leave,’ said General Scales… Once the advancing force reaches the most hardened fighters, often concentrated in a city center, “You pound the bejesus out of them with artillery and precision-guided bombs until they surrender or die,” General Scales said. ‘There’s absolutely no surprise in all this.’”
  • “‘If you want to kill the bad guys, kill them in the open, not hunkered down in fortified positions, with booby traps strewn all around them,’ said General Scales. ‘Everyone knows that’s’”

Michael Singh, former senior director for Middle East Affairs at the White House: “‘The Mosul operation is an Iraqi operation, not a U.S.-led one,’ rebutted Michael Singh, a former Bush administration official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ‘And it appears quite likely to succeed in wresting the city from ISIS’ control. The notion of a ‘sneak attack’ makes no sense here — this is a massive operation, and Iraqi and other coalition forces have spent months ‘shaping the battlefield’ in preparation for it.’”

Matthew Spence, former defense official: “”The language he uses and the lack of meaningful critique — it’s unpresidential and deeply unhelpful for American foreign policy.”

And when it comes to the military, Trump’s bluster doesn’t stop with Mosul. Yesterday, in a local interview, Trump falsely suggested that he had been “endorsed largely, at least conceptually, by the military.”

NBC News: Trump Cites Police, Military, ICE Endorsements That Didn’t Happen: “On Monday, he told News4Jax that the United States military ‘conceptually’ endorsed him and that ‘virtually every police department’ in the country backed his bid for the presidency. During last week’s third debate, Trump said his hardline stance on immigration and pledge to build a border wall had earned him an endorsement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But none of that is true.”

Business Insider: “Trump has indeed been endorsed by several dozen retired generals and admirals, but many of the most well-known military figures alive today — including dozens from within the Republican Party itself — have denounced Trump in strong terms. And Trump has said the US military is a ‘disaster.’”

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How to Watch: The Final Presidential Debate

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Tonight, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off in the final debate before the election on November 8th. Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, the third debate will be moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace and will focus on debt, entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and “fitness to be president.” The debate will begin at 9 pm ET and will be available live on most major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, CNN, Univision, Telemundo, C-SPAN). There will also be a number of live stream options including CBSN, YouTube, Twitter, and the Wall Street Journal. A live stream of the debate is available below.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: Vox

How to Watch: Tonight’s 2nd Presidential Debate

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Tonight, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off in their second of three debates. This debate will differ from the last debate in that questions will be asked by members of the audience as well as the debate moderators, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. The debate will begin at 9 pm ET and will be available live on most major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, CNN, Univision, Telemundo, C-SPAN). There will also be a number of live stream options including CBSN, YouTube, Twitter, and the Wall Street Journal. A live stream of the debate is available below.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: Vox

Tonight: The Vice-Presidential Debate

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Tonight, the running mates of presidential nominees Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) will face off in the only vice-presidential debate during the election cycle. Senator Tim Kaine (D) and former Indian Governor Mike Pence (R) will face off in their debate from Farmville, Virginia. The event will be moderated by CBSN’s Elaine Quijano. The debate will begin at 9 pm ET and will be available live on most major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, CNN, Univision, Telemundo, C-SPAN). There will also be a number of live stream options including CBSN, YouTube, Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed News, and the Daily Caller. A live stream is available below:

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: Wired

Hillary Clinton’s Wednesday Interview Blitz

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On the day after securing the delegates to become the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major political party, Hillary Clinton made the press circuit today talking about her nomination, her plans for the country, the upcoming general election between her and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, and a variety of other other topics. Clinton spoke to a series of television and print reporters for: The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC News, and CBS News. To read more about each interview, including transcripts, click the links. Videos for the televised interviews are below.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

News Source: The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC News, CBS News,