Famously on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Donald Trump demonstrated that he had not the slightest idea of the United States’ nuclear deterrent strategy, the nuclear triad. (The nuclear triad is the ability of the United States to respond to a nuclear attack via strategic bombers, land based intercontinental ballistic missiles and sea based intercontinental missiles. This week, also on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Mr. Trump responded again to the question of releasing his tax returns: “They’re very complex papers, but we’re working on it …. I have to ask my accounting people. But we’ll be working on it.” Apparently the Xerox machine is broken.
Equally famously, Harry Reid from the lectern in the U.S. Senate declared regarding Mitt Romney:“So the word is out that he has not paid any taxes for 10 years.” Donald Trump can expect the same from Harry Reid should it become clear that Mr. Trump has the Republican nomination in his grasp.
If the public is to learn about Donald Trump, the man, there is a triad of documents that need be released immediately. First, Mr. Trump should release his federal and state tax income returns for 2012 and 2013. Second, Mr. Trump should release his college transcripts. Third, the public needs to understand how much money was lost by his investors and who those investors (direct and indirect) were in his four corporate bankruptcies.
With respect to his federal and state income tax returns, all Mr. Trump needs is a Xerox machine. Given his myriad investment entities, that Xerox machine will be busy for a while, but that is the only tool required to release his tax returns. (If Mr. Trump is going green, he could alternatively use a scanner.) If he is thinking about releasing redacted tax returns which is the only reason he could not release his returns literally today, then he need tell the public he is afraid for voters to see his complete tax returns.
Given access to the finest legal and accounting gurus in the world, Mr. Trump’s tax returns should be an absolute fascination. There are so many interesting questions that may be answered in his tax returns.
What is Mr. Trump's actual tax rate? Removing his residences from his net worth statement, Mr. Trump should have adjusted gross income of over $400 million if he is earning a five percent return on his disclosed net worth. That should result in a staggering amount of Federal taxes.
Is Trump organized in such a way that he is paying taxes at capital gains rates rather than ordinary income tax rates because he is using the carried interest loophole? The tax return may not reveal precisely whether his branding transactions are structured to result in capital gains treatment, but it makes a great follow-up question.
Is Trump paying taxes as a New York resident or is he claiming to be a Florida resident?
Mr. Trump's released financial statements indicate very, very little debt on his properties relative to their fair market value. His tax returns should confirm his low leverage by including very little interest expense on his properties.
Is any of Mr. Trump’s income sheltered overseas? Are his individual investments profitable?
Before his decision to run for the presidency, was he making significant cash contributions to charity?
It is also time for Trump to release his college transcripts. He should demonstrate that his transfer from Fordham to Penn's Wharton School was based upon academic achievement at Fordham. Then since he repeatedly informs the public how smart he is, perhaps Mr. Trump can let us in on his academic achievements at Wharton. Was he an honors graduate?
Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated accurately that he has never gone bankrupt; he only used the bankruptcy laws with his corporate investments as is perfectly legal. Absolutely correct, but who were the financial victims of those bankruptcies. It appears tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars were lost by investors in Donnie Trump's Atlantic City casino investments. Were his ultimate investors (losers) pension funds that support millions of retired and soon to be retired individuals? Were the ultimate investors (losers) state pension funds that required additional taxpayer contributions (taxes) to offset the money lost in those casinos when and after Mr. Trump put them into bankruptcy? Who were the real financial victims of Mr. Trump's disastrous investments in Atlantic City?
If Mr. Trump really wants to be President of the United States, he should be releasing all of the information mentioned in this piece so we can know more about him.