Today is tax day, and millions of Americans will have to show the government everything — their salaries and their expenses, their profits, and their losses.
Though the process can be incredibly intrusive, most Americans cooperate anyway, because if we don’t, the alternative is jail.
Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the same rules when it comes to paying taxes, and the biggest tax scofflaw of all could be the man at the top of our government — Donald Trump. Only we’re not sure about it, because he refuses to release his tax returns.
That’s why, on this tax day, Americans from both political parties should band together and call for transparency to make a Tiger Woods-style comeback. After all, the government can’t expect the rest of us to be honest about our taxes when Trump, by his own admission, thinks it’s a good thing not to pay his own.
Trump said as much at a 2016 presidential debate when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton theorized about then-candidate Trump’s refusal to show his tax returns.
“Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” Clinton said, “because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”
“That makes me smart,” Trump said.
In a CNN interview immediately following the debate, Trump denied that he’d said not paying taxes makes him smart.
But in my view, this is not just about whether Trump pays taxes. It’s about him hiding his tax records from the American people, just like he’s hidden other personal records and behavior.
Trump had his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, threaten to sue Fordham University if the school released Trump’s college transcripts during the presidential campaign. When Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on multiple counts of tax and bank fraud, Trump spoke of pardoning him, seemingly in an effort to stymy Manafort’s cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s campaign. In addition, Trump had several women with whom he allegedly had affairs sign non-disclosure agreements in exchange for payment.
From where I sit, it looks like this guy hides virtually everything.
That’s why the Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee trying to get access to Trump’s tax returns is like trying to get Ben Simmons to take a playoff jumpshot. I doubt that it will ever happen.
But if, by some miracle, a Stormy Daniels type shows up at the White House with tax returns and says, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” we could get the answers we’ve been seeking for years.
We’ll finally see if Trump has financial ties to the Russians who meddled in the presidential election to tip the scales in Trump’s favor. We’ll finally gain insight into why Trump persists in hiding his own tax returns, even as he changes the tax laws to benefit the rich. We’ll learn, once and for all, whether Trump actually pays taxes like the rest of us.
But just in case that doesn’t happen, remember this day. Remember that while you were paying your taxes, the president was hiding his. If you want that to change, it’s not about what you do on tax day. It’s about what you do on Election Day. So do yourself a favor, and vote.
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