If Anything, the New York Times Makes the Case for Comprehensive Tax Reform

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

 

In a “bombshell” (note: I hate how overused that term is) report, the New York Times explores the tax returns of President Donald Trump, exposing how much he’s made and lost, how much he’s paid in taxes, and how much he was able to write off.

Within the report itself, we see no evidence of many of the accusations Democrats have leveled against Trump for the past five years (ties to Russia, the mob, or whatever). We don’t see that he defrauded anyone. We don’t even see that he’s actually a broke conman (though his business doesn’t seem all that healthy for how big it’s supposed to be).

You know what we do see, though? The pressing, urgent need for a reformation of the tax code that is both comprehensive and simplifying.

That Trump was able to use the tax code so effectively that he only had to pay $750 in taxes in 2017 doesn’t mean he committed a crime. It means he had a damn good team of accountants and that the tax code allowed him to do that. It’s probably why he’s under audit, as he’s claimed from the get-go, but if those audits had found anything in the years before his presidency, there’s no way we wouldn’t know about it by now. But we haven’t seen it yet. That means something.

What we see in the Times report is that the rich and powerful have the means to not only make more than your average American citizen, but also have the means to avoid giving huge chunks of it to the IRS. That is a privilege I’d love to have, and a privilege all of you reading this would, too. Wouldn’t it be great to only give $750 a year to the IRS? Think of how much of your income you could be stockpiling in order to actually do some good for yourselves and your families. Think of the economic boom we could have if everyone were in that position.

But we don’t have the means to hire lobbyists and buddy up with policymakers to make changes to the tax code that would benefit us. We don’t have the right people in our corner looking out for us and making sure the tax code is as simple and as unrestrictive on the middle and lower class as it is on the upper class.

The system is built to benefit rich businessmen like Trump. I don’t hold it against him. He’s doing nothing that the tax code wasn’t sculpted by the rich and powerful businessmen, corporations, and their lobbyists to allow.

I don’t know what the answer is. Could be the fair tax, a flat tax, or something along those lines. Could be something new that simply hasn’t been dreamt up yet. It’s crucial, though, that we stop doing tax reforms (yes, even Trump’s tax reform) that don’t uncomplicate things. We need something new and drastic, something that will forever change the game and make it easy for us to say that we were paid this and we are owed that.

Naturally, none of this matters when November rolls around. If Trump loses, it’s because people are out of their jobs under his watch and COVID-19 hasn’t been contained, and it will be because Joe Biden isn’t Hillary Clinton. If Trump wins, it’s because the Democratic Party scares the shit out of voters and there is no one who can convince them Biden won’t sell out to the far left. Trump’s business practices, his character, his personality are all known quantities. They won’t play a part here.