Why won't Trump release his tax returns?

President Trump’s refusal to make his tax returns public is intriguing and troubling. The IRS routinely audits Presidential and Congressional tax returns. Yet former Presidents and most members of Congress have made their tax returns public.
Possible explanations for Trump’s refusal include:
  • His tax returns may reveal that he is not as wealthy as he would like for people to believe. Many real estate investments are heavily leveraged (i.e., mortgaged), so perhaps his substantial real estate holdings represent a relatively small net worth totaling in the hundreds of millions instead of billions.
  • His tax returns may reveal that he derives a disproportionate share of his income from licensing his name instead of the successful real estate deals about which he boasts.
  • His tax returns may reveal aggressive interpretations of the tax code that trigger repeated audits that are not always resolved in his favor.

If Trump’s tax returns would enhance his public image by showing that he possesses great wealth or that his real estate empire is highly profitable, making his income tax returns public would seem to flatter his narcissistic ego. Similarly, if his tax returns revealed that he paid relatively little in tax, his public remarks indicate that he would view that outcome favorably. Maybe Donald Trump is much less wealthy and less successful than he wants people to believe.
Given Trump’s alleged wealth, human’s consistently acting in their self-interest, and Trump’s undeniable consistent self-promotion, the public and legislators understanding how his proposed changes to the tax code would benefit him is vital for transparent, fair government. Is Trump’s support for specific changes to the code motivated by what he thinks best for the nation, what will benefit him, or both? The one tax return that Trump has made public illustrates the importance of those questions as he advocates changes that would have personally benefitted him. In that one return he used deductions related to real estate investments to minimize his income and had to pay Alternative Minimum Tax.


Anonymous said…
Why didn't Obama release all of his personal info?
George Clifford said…
To the best of my knowledge, Obama released all of his tax returns. He also released his birth certificate in response to the specious, supercilious argument that he was not an American citizen by birth. To what "personal info" are you referring.
Anonymous said…
There are a number of questions re obama's authenticity including his birth certificate, his social security number, his name change, his college records. I
believe trump, in many ways, will be a disaster (but less of one than Clinton).
However, it seems an inconsistency to me that the media and the dems, who had little interest in finding answers to legitimate questions about Obama, are demanding that trump respond to all of their inquiries.
George Clifford said…
Anonymous, Thanks for providing an example of "alternative facts." There are no questions about the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate, his social security number, or anything else. Obama's mother was a US citizen. That makes him a US citizen. The questions about Obama have no basis in fact or law. Conversely, the questions about Trump's motives with respect to tax code changes and other issues are largely of Trump's own making, a result of his refusal to release his tax returns.
Anonymous said…
What do you expect trump’s tax returns to show; that he is a money-grubbing narcissist. What else is new. BTW. How do you feel about obama reportedly being paid $3.4 million at the Global Food Innovation Summit or $400M by Cantor Fitzgerald, a loathsome Wall Street group of crony socialists. How about hill and bill and the millions they took from Wall Street cronies.
Anonymous said…
and there is no health in us
George Clifford said…
Venality is not limited to any one political party.

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