It’s that time of year again. It’s not the first time we’ve heard it, but talk is coming again about Donald Trump’s tax returns. With the Democrats holding power in the House of Representatives, the chance that those returns will be seen may be difficult to gauge with precision, but they are certainly greater than they were six months ago.
I wonder how this is going to play as we get deeper into the tax season. More people are going to be finding out just how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects them, and you can be sure that the loudest voices are going to be the ones most drastically affected. So with more people talking about taxes, and possibly loudly talking about them, the president and his taxes will surely remain a talking point.
But just what would we find out if his returns are released?
First, the return would give only a rough look at how much Trump is actually worth. He claims it is billions of dollars at times, while detractors believe it to be a much smaller number. My bet would be that the truth lies – like it does with almost everything – somewhere in the middle. A tax return, though, deals in taxable income, not overall worth.
The returns do actually show some things, and a big one is just how much someone pays in taxes and where the income comes from. At a time now when there are going to be people out there talking about how much more they are paying under the TCJA, I imagine that many are going to hope that Trump was paying his fair share.
Rhetoric in some areas is sure to amp up that Trump’s tax plan was made to benefit the wealthy, and that the wealthy are given advantages that allow them to pay less tax than they should. This could become tricky for the president who in the past told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible,” back when his returns were an election issue.
It is important to note that this does not mean that Trump has done anything illegal, shady or underhanded. If the fact that he could pay next to nothing bothers someone, then the correct place to put the blame is on the system, not on someone working within that system. Even if it turns out that the system he helped implement further solidified his ability to pay little, one can say it’s wrong, but not illegal.
A tax return would also show how much money Trump gives to charity, which could also be a polarizing issue. Trump has claimed he is charitable, while others say the money he claims to donate is done through other organizations, where even if he is involved, it is not actually his money going to the charity.
So gear up for taxes to be news over the next few months for many reasons. And let this be a reminder that you need to handle your return, because even if the public doesn’t see it, the IRS wants to. And it just so happens that many slots are available now to make your appointment to do so before everything amps up. Let’s see how I can help you pay your fair share only and nothing more.