Tax evader or worse?

42. He’s hiding something

Of all the promises DT made and then proceeded to break over the past four years, one of the most notorious concerns his tax returns. The sequence is really very simple: unlike every other major presidential candidate in modern history, he failed to make his tax returns public; then he made lame excuses; then he stonewalled; then he defied the Constitution.

Unlike a clever crook, DT can’t even get his story straight. First, he couldn’t release his tax returns because they were “under audit”. Then it was a question of voters not caring. Later, it was “none of their [voters’] business”.

Fact is: there is nothing to prevent the release of tax returns that are being audited. Guess who released his when they were under audit? Richard Nixon.

Fact: voters do care. Over one million Americans signed a petition demanding that DT release the returns. Tens of thousands participated in peaceful protests demanding the same.

Fact: mature grown-ups don’t insult people’s intelligence by invoking the none-of-your-beeswax defense. According to constitutional and statutory law, the Congress elected by the people has the right to exercise oversight over a president’s conduct. This includes the legal right to inspect a president’s tax returns, and the IRS cannot legally refuse a request to provide documents for such an inspection. Unfortunately, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of DT’s lawbreaking cabinet members, defied the law. Another instance of a fox guarding the henhouse in this thoroughly corrupt administration.

What is he hiding? Would anyone, even someone as psychologically unsound as DT, really go to all this trouble to avoid routine scrutiny if they had done nothing wrong?

The attorney general of the state of New York State continues to investigate the Tr-mp organization over fraud allegations, and his office has seen the returns. But DT keeps siccing his legal team on state officials, trying to obstruct them at every turn. One very good reason to vote DT out of office is to turn him back into a regular citizen, at which time he’ll no longer be able to bully IRS bureaucrats and other officials, and the truth about his taxes will finally be revealed.

A question of character

Until DT came onto the scene, every president over the past 40-odd years released meaningful information about his income tax, in most cases the full returns. Let’s turn to Nixon again—the crookedest president in modern history prior to 2016. Upon releasing his tax returns, Tricky Dick said, “I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president’s a crook.” Turned out he was indeed a crook, although his criminality may not have extended to his taxpaying habits. On the other hand, he did owe a lot of back taxes, but he was man enough not to hide the fact. The conman currently occupying the Oval Office doesn’t even have the moral fiber of Nixon.

In the grand scheme of things, this may not be terribly important. What with unprecedented wildfires and other manifestations of the climate emergency that DT studiously ignores, immigrant children in private prisons crying for the parents DT has torn them away from, 200,000 Americans dead from the pandemic DT mishandled from day one, and violent white-supremacist thugs running amok with DT’s blessing, the topic of tax returns does seem a bit abstract. But the way he’s handled the question of his returns matters because character matters in a president. If we can’t trust one to disclose something as basic as how much income they’ve made, where they made it, and how much tax they paid on it, why should we trust them at all? Criminality usually involves money, after all.