Author Topic: The Pandora's box of tax returns  (Read 2106 times)

TheDrake

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The Pandora's box of tax returns
« on: May 07, 2019, 11:19:39 AM »
This box needs to stay closed. The subpoena of Trump's tax returns is very dangerous. The power to do this stemmed from a real need in the wake of corruption. Let's understand, though, that anyone really participating in the kind of corruption seen in Teapot Dome in the current era knows how to keep it off their tax return.

I think that probably a clear reading of the law indicates that this is absolutely allowed. It is going to go to the Supreme Court, and in this case I hope they are activist judges and deny the request. I envision a future hellscape of every nominee, every cabinet member, every witness to a committee, every outspoken critic could be subject to this treatment.

Let's review:

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Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.4

This isn't limited to the President. It isn't limited to anything. There is no burden of probable cause, it can be invoked on a whim. Do we really want this to become a common cudgel?

Note that I say this, despite believing that there is probably a lot of shady maneuvering in Trump's returns. I don't think that's unique to him, and it is unclear to me that there's a legitimate oversight role in seeing Trump overstated his deductions.

Trump has set up this nightmare scenario by refusing to follow norms, less about not releasing the returns than to the retention of his sprawling business empire. The same scenario that the law was created for, involving the Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Even so, I think this treatment is worse than the disease.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2019, 11:53:42 AM »
Having the SC blatantly contradict a statute is way worse than any potential cudgel to be used against political opponents. There's already too much judicial legislating going on. If it's a bad law, then have Congress change the law.

I also doubt it's a slippery slope. Unless a politician makes a spectacle of their unreleased tax returns, there's not much to be gained by going this route. Most people's taxes are boring in the extreme regardless.

Fenring

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2019, 12:08:06 PM »
I also doubt it's a slippery slope. Unless a politician makes a spectacle of their unreleased tax returns, there's not much to be gained by going this route. Most people's taxes are boring in the extreme regardless.

The Panama Papers would like to have a word with you.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2019, 12:15:40 PM »
I think that probably a clear reading of the law indicates that this is absolutely allowed.

That's because you're reading it too literally and too far out of context.  Lot's of things appear absolute until you place them in context.  So while, it's possible that the literal reading is correct, it's also possible (and in my view more likely) it's not.

Congress's powers have already been found to be limited, Constitutionally, to matters that relate to their core legislative functions.  Pulling an individual's tax returns for political dirt is in no way connected to a core legislative function.  There's too many public statements to read any request, absent an impeachment proceeding, as not tainted by the political motivations. 

In this case the "reason" given was to evaluate how the IRS manages its program for auditing a President. First of all, that's transparently targeted at a single person, especially given that  they did not ask for any past President's records.  Bills of attainder are unConstitutional (and this is perilously close, and invokes the same logical concerns).  Second, the records themselves are tangential to the stated purpose and Treasury offered to give them information about the audit process.  Courts have been very reluctant to give personally invasive information when there are other ways to approach a problem.  Third, only a blind partisan would ignore the near certainty that the state reason is a pretext.

I can't guarantee this one, the statutory text is clear, but this is the kind of test that has a high probability of causing a statute to be ruled unConstitutional either as applied to the circumstances or in general.

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This isn't limited to the President. It isn't limited to anything. There is no burden of probable cause, it can be invoked on a whim. Do we really want this to become a common cudgel?

Try the Fourth Amendment.  If there's no proper legislative purpose, then this would violate it.

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The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Having the SC blatantly contradict a statute is way worse than any potential cudgel to be used against political opponents. There's already too much judicial legislating going on. If it's a bad law, then have Congress change the law.

It's not a "bad law" its unconstitutional as applied.  That's exactly what we use the SC to do.  Are you confused somehow that a statute takes priority over the Constitution?

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I also doubt it's a slippery slope. Unless a politician makes a spectacle of their unreleased tax returns, there's not much to be gained by going this route. Most people's taxes are boring in the extreme regardless.

Most members of Congress have never released their returns, and they've  been blatantly self interested over the years, including by being allowed to trade on private  information connected to laws they are passing.  The President can also obtain individual returns, and he has a whole FBI and DOJ there to do an investigation and bring criminal charges.

This is not a good game.  We should all  put aside the politics of the moment.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2019, 12:45:51 PM »
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especially given that  they did not ask for any past President's records.

Check me if I'm wrong, but they don't have to because they were all made public.

I think Trump's sprawling empire makes a simple case for Congress to be interested in his returns for legitimate purposes, the exact ones the law was designed for. On the other hand, I don't think that is their primary or only interest.

The request is not at all based on "how the IRS manages its program for auditing a President".

The letter is here

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As I explained in my earlier letter, that request is in furtherance of consideration by the Committee on Ways and Means (“Committee”) of legislative proposals and oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President.

But not limited to. Plus, he makes it clear they don't need an excuse.

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Second, there is no valid basis to question the legitimacy of the Committee’s legislative purpose here.  The Supreme Court has instructed that Congress’s power to investigate is “broad” and “encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.”  Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 187 (1957). 

As long as they have a fig leaf, then SC isn't supposed to intervene because they suspect it isn't the real reason.

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the Supreme Court has consistently noted that the motivations underlying Congressional action are not to be second guessed, even by the courts.  Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 509 (1975) (“The wisdom of congressional approach or methodology is not open to judicial veto.”); Watkins, 354 U.S. at 200 (“But a solution to our problem is not to be found in testing the motives of committee members for this purpose.  Such is not our function.”); Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 132 (1959) (“So long as Congress acts in pursuance of its constitutional power, the Judiciary lacks authority to intervene on the basis of the motives which spurred the exercise of that power.”). 

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2019, 01:18:33 PM »
Check me if I'm wrong, but they don't have to because they were all made public.

The way they were audited - was not made public.

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The request is not at all based on "how the IRS manages its program for auditing a President".

I suggest you reread the first paragraph of the letter you cited, it literally lays out what I paraphrased and flags that the first letter went in more detail on the point.  Hanging your hat on Congress asserting it doesn't need a reason isn't going to get there (which is why Congress made up a reason to put in the letter even though they had "absolute" language - they know it's exceeding their Constitutional authority).

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I think Trump's sprawling empire makes a simple case for Congress to be interested in his returns for legitimate purposes, the exact ones the law was designed for. On the other hand, I don't think that is their primary or only interest.

Actually no, this was not designed to support fishing expeditions.   Take a look at materials on the Teapot Dome scandal and the legislative history.  To be a real analogy you'd need the evidence of the crime before you go for the records, not go for the records to get the evidence of the crime.

This idea of investigate to find a crime is fundamentally inconsistent with our entire format of government.  It's not justice, it's abuse of justice.

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But not limited to. Plus, he makes it clear they don't need an excuse.

And Munchen  made it clear that he wasn't complying absent a purpose consistent with Congresses actual Constitutional authority. 

So what?  These are co-equal branches.  Would you support Trump subpeoning the House servers to investigate whether they illegally conspired in connection with the investigation of the Trump administration?  Or that they engaged in illegal leaks?  I think they could easily make a plausible case that they would find evidence of crimes if they got those servers.

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As long as they have a fig leaf, then SC isn't supposed to intervene because they suspect it isn't the real reason.

Again, things always look clear if you don't understand context.  The SC is "supposed" to intervene if Congress is exceeding its authority as provided by the Constitution.  However, you seem to be ignoring the separation of powers here, Congress is actually attempted to violate the Executive branches exclusive authority, the Executive told them no.  This is 100% a constitutional issue.  Citing to statutes isn't going to get it done.

Any way, feel free to interpret it however you want to.  I think if you go back and look at my record on these kinds of interpretations you'd be stunned.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2019, 02:04:46 PM »
Any way, feel free to interpret it however you want to.  I think if you go back and look at my record on these kinds of interpretations you'd be stunned.

You got me there. You're the king of constitutional interpretation. I'm not personally qualified for that, and I imagine I could drag out dozens of constitutional scholars who say this is perfectly within bounds. An I imagine equally that you would refute every argument put forward, since you already know best.

Pete at Home

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2019, 02:10:32 PM »
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Again, things always look clear if you don't understand context.  The SC is "supposed" to intervene if Congress is exceeding its authority as provided by the Constitution.  However, you seem to be ignoring the separation of powers here, Congress is actually attempted to violate the Executive branches exclusive authority, the Executive told them no.  This is 100% a constitutional issue.  Citing to statutes isn't going to get it done.


Agreed in principle but SCOTUS has a habit of citing its well worn "Political Question" escape clause when it comes down to a down out scat flinging fight between the Executive and Legislative.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2019, 02:48:32 PM »
Just to be clear, I'm not saying I know how it will turn out.  The SC could decline it and let a lower court decision stand.  It could say the statute is plain and explain away the Constitutional conflicts, it could strike the statute down or more likely double up on it's previous position that Congress's powers are limited on this point.

All I'm saying, is that this is unlikely to be a straight up case of statutory interpretation when it gets to the courts.

Pete at Home

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 03:11:08 PM »
Well said and wholeheartedly agreed.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 04:13:10 PM »
I assume that under a audit anything illegal would come out so suspect the reasons for Trump not releasing his tax returns are abut pride and political.
Dangling this fruit just out of reach is a wonderful distracting for his opponents and I suspect that if the tax returns were released Trump ego may be hurt but anything questionable would roll off his Teflon hide.
What Trumps opponents don't understand is that his followers don't care and won't believe anything found anyway. Let it go, history will uncover the truth.
If the democrats want to win they have got to find someone that has a good platform and is capable of inspiring the people to believe that just maybe we can be better then we are. 

Pete at Home

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2019, 05:31:43 PM »
I assume that under a audit anything illegal would come out so suspect the reasons for Trump not releasing his tax returns are abut pride and political.
Dangling this fruit just out of reach is a wonderful distracting for his opponents and I suspect that if the tax returns were released Trump ego may be hurt but anything questionable would roll off his Teflon hide.
What Trumps opponents don't understand is that his followers don't care and won't believe anything found anyway. Let it go, history will uncover the truth.
If the democrats want to win they have got to find someone that has a good platform and is capable of inspiring the people to believe that just maybe we can be better then we are.

To his credit, I strongly believe that Obama tried to be that inspiration.  I don't think that Secretary Clinton tried beyond "are you a good enough person to vote for me."  don't get me wrong -- there are times in her history that show her to be an idealist.  But the closer she got to a position of her own power, the more she seems the disciple of Saul Alinsky.

Pete at Home

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 05:36:44 PM »
Using the last clause of the 14th Amendment clause, we could skirt conventional law and satisfy everyone's curiosity:

Amend the constitution to compel and require Donald trump to release his tax return and Hillary Clinton's speech to the Banks to be released and described by all persons that were present.

Anyone go for that?

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2019, 09:59:33 AM »
Amend the constitution to compel and require Donald trump to release his tax return and Hillary Clinton's speech to the Banks to be released and described by all persons that were present.

Anyone go for that?

No.  I actually think the public release of tax returns by Presidential candidates should stop. It's clearly designed, as is being used with Trump, as an express barrier to entry on anyone from outside the political class.  I mean, all the politicians have statements that are scrubbed and harmless, notwithstanding they are managing to make millions to hundreds of millions (hello Hillary) of dollars without ever having produced any product or even run a company.

The tax code itself has been and is ridiculously complex and even a small company's returns run into the hundreds of pages with judgement calls through out.  Literally, as we know from audits, there's something that can be disputed on every return, even if the IRS doesn't remotely "win" all those disputes (a lot are explained away with more detail).  The media?  As you can see from the NYTimes article they barely understand what's in the returns (reporting tax losses as losses for example) or reporting that a tax policy hurt people because it reduced refunds (even though tax liabilities were down).  Public disclosure has not stopped one bit of the corruption that is endemic to Washington elites.

As operated it's just a barrier to entry intended to protect politicians.

Given the real concern with potential foreign influence and potential corruption we do however need someone to vet those returns.  It should be on a confidential basis by an impartial group.  We already have a mandatory audit process that the IRS runs, but I can see a strong argument that the review process needs to vet more than compliance with tax law (I doubt that's in their mandate, but I don't know).

So if you want a confidential, non-partisan review with criminal penalties for leaks I'm good.  Otherwise, all I see with this demand is an intentional plan to discourage non-professional politicians from entering the fray.

rightleft22, the most likely reason not to release the statements is that they are probably 10's of thousands of pages long and filled with legitimate discretionary judgments.  Give hostile politicians, media and prosecutors 10,000 discretionary judgments to evaluate and they'll "find something" and blow it out of proportion.  Meanwhile the relatively non-partisan IRS is in a much better position to evaluate the returns on a fair and impartial basis.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2019, 10:26:42 AM »
There isn't something that can be disputed on every return. Home office? No, you don't have one, don't list it. Unless you are being aggressive trying to pay absolute minimum, you are fine. Millions of people simply pay the standard deduction. I would greatly prefer a tax code that allows zero deduction, but the family business cheat crowd would be apoplectic.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2019, 10:46:31 AM »
TheDrake, lol.  Okay, read me literally.  I agree if you have no income, file an EZ or take the standard deductions you probably don't have much audit risk. 

Of course if you live in a state that requires you report out of state purchases and pay sales tax (and doesn't have a "standard" you can use), you may have a problem, or if you received interest on a security deposit (even if the lender took it as fees) you may have a violation, or if you paid too much unreported to your babysitter, lawncare guys or other cash contractors.  Heck if you took cash in payment for a job.  Taking a deduction for donating to Goodwill, almost certainly used disputable judgement. 

Most people aren't getting audited - less than 1% of those making less than $500k.  But don't confuse the lack of focus (cause the returns on catching a tax fraud of $20, aren't worth it), with lack of disputable items.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2019, 11:06:36 AM »
You're not wrong, and I've done some of that. Then I got smart, and I hire businesses for services, not individuals. I've never misrepresented a basis or a sale price. I've actually read the tax code on buying and selling used items to see what I owed and how to report it. I'm sure I'm the exception, but let's also not confuse the frequency of trying to get away with things as an excuse that it's not wrong.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2019, 12:08:52 PM »
Not sure I'm confusing anything, just pointing out that for an aggressive hate-filled prosecutor it's almost a certainty they could find something to dispute in your tax returns, and a lot of those provisions include things like, "a fine not to exceed $500 and/or up to a year in prison."  The prison part (shouldn't be there) but is intended to be used as a cudgel for flagrant abuses, yet can be put into the charges to make it sound like someone risks 100's of years in prison for what are ultimately a string of minor events that were within their reasonable discretion.

In any event, we can either have good faith tax filings that are protected, or we can have bad faith prosecutions based on them and everyone will be super defensive and the politically unfavored will go to jail anyway.  This is literally part of the path to criminalizing political opposition.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2019, 12:17:19 PM »
I started this whole thing with the premise that I don't think scouring returns is a good idea. But I object to the idea it is inevitable that 'everybody' or even 'most people' are living in Manafort land wiring money from offshore accounts to buy exotic clothing.

"Everybody's doing it" isn't an excuse for the teenage shoplifter, nor is it an excuse for the billionaire tax evader - or for that matter the tax avoider, trying to exploit every possible gray area.

I have literally met people who got audited and the government wound up giving them money because they didn't claim things that were legitimate.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2019, 01:36:57 PM »
But I object to the idea it is inevitable that 'everybody' or even 'most people' are living in Manafort land wiring money from offshore accounts to buy exotic clothing.

"Everybody's doing it" isn't an excuse for the teenage shoplifter, nor is it an excuse for the billionaire tax evader - or for that matter the tax avoider, trying to exploit every possible gray area.

By "everybody doing it" you mean making reasonable judgment calls that an aggressive prosecutor could disagree with and charge as crimes?

I never said that everyone is committing tax fraud.  I said that there are things on every statement that could be construed or misconstrued as violations.  If I thought the Dems wanted Trumps tax returns to be fair, I'd probably not see this as an issue.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2019, 02:24:44 PM »
That's a pretty nice dodge: "my political opponents aren't going to be fair."

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2019, 02:36:13 PM »
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reasonable judgment calls

If you're rocking your hand back and forth over it, the answer is no. What such people are doing is wondering if they can get away with it.

Have a look at a bunch of politicians returns, and you tell me if every statement there has items that can be misconstrued, or that a prosecutor could get an indictment with? I recommend Mike Pence 2015. You can look at his wife's watercolor business. First, she sold $495 worth of paintings. (Nice job, Karen!) The vast majority of Americans would probably pocket the $500 and not really think twice about it under the "they'll never know" doctrine. The only expenses listed are a lockbox and website. No COGS declared for paints, canvases, frames, etc. 0. No expense to transport the art to the state fair. No capital depreciation on her easels. Just straight up unassailable.

I'll repeat that I don't think subpoenaing is a good idea, I just think that assertions about how you could play games with everybody's returns are unfounded.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2019, 02:37:12 PM »
Some days I find posting on here to be an exercise in ignoring incremental nonsense.  It's not a dodge, it's just a fact, the Dems have no interest in being fair to Trump, they've pursued false claims, and twisted everything they could to make it appear as damaging as it could.  Are you seriously asserting they want his tax returns to evaluate them on an impartial basis?

ITS NOT A DODGE TO SAY THAT NO GROUP OF POLITICIANS CAN BE FAIR IN THE REVIEW OF OPPOSITION CANDIDATE TAX RETURNS.

Wayward Son

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2019, 02:39:14 PM »
One thing I don't understand is why a man who said he would release his tax returns (like all recent Presidential candidates have) "as soon as the audit is finished," is now fighting tooth-and-nail to keep them from Congress.  ???

And do all the arguments for preventing the House from looking at Trump's returns also apply to Trump's right to look at anyone's tax returns?  ???

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2019, 02:40:30 PM »
Some days I find posting on here to be an exercise in ignoring incremental nonsense.  It's not a dodge, it's just a fact, the Dems have no interest in being fair to Trump, they've pursued false claims, and twisted everything they could to make it appear as damaging as it could.  Are you seriously asserting they want his tax returns to evaluate them on an impartial basis?

ITS NOT A DODGE TO SAY THAT NO GROUP OF POLITICIANS CAN BE FAIR IN THE REVIEW OF OPPOSITION CANDIDATE TAX RETURNS.

I agree. About as much as a group of vocal Republicans were fair about Obama's birth certificate, it would look very similar. Except that was just one piece of paper.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2019, 02:42:39 PM »
Some days I find posting on here to be an exercise in ignoring incremental nonsense.  It's not a dodge, it's just a fact, the Dems have no interest in being fair to Trump, they've pursued false claims, and twisted everything they could to make it appear as damaging as it could.  Are you seriously asserting they want his tax returns to evaluate them on an impartial basis?

ITS NOT A DODGE TO SAY THAT NO GROUP OF POLITICIANS CAN BE FAIR IN THE REVIEW OF OPPOSITION CANDIDATE TAX RETURNS.

I'm asserting that it's in the public interest for him to release his returns. Regardless of why the democrats are pushing for it, you're still providing cover for Trump's refusal which is almost certain aimed at preserving his public image at the expense of truth.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2019, 02:45:35 PM »
TheDrake, I'm willing to bet that 99% of people have never reported a dime from a yard sale.  I'm willing to bet that 95% have never clearly accounted for every article of clothing in a donation - and have had to exercise judgment about the condition and what the articles are.  I'm willing to bet that when they donate other stuff they've never fully considered whether the donation is garbage or good for use (Goodwill throws a substantial chuck straight into the garbage), most of the charities give you a signed blank form to complete with what you donated and its value.  Value is completely subjective.

How many people have done the analysis about reporting their kids' babysitting income or filing for the kid directly?

Taxes for an individual are a complicated mess, for any company they are orders of magnitude worse.  Did you properly breakdown which upgrades are capital improvements and which are fixtures and which are expensed versus capitalized and amortized?  I guaranty there are things for which the proper treatment is disputable in good faith.  Take a look at the rules with respect to uncertain events, and how to treat them, or how to value things when you're required to mark to market.  When you get into real estate some of the rules are so unclear that they've had multiple interpretative opinions issued by regulators and still trip honest people up.

This idea that good honest people will have faultless returns is nonsense.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2019, 02:51:05 PM »
One thing I don't understand is why a man who said he would release his tax returns (like all recent Presidential candidates have) "as soon as the audit is finished," is now fighting tooth-and-nail to keep them from Congress.  ???

They are still under audit, and now we know that Presidential returns are automatically audited, which means the excuse will be in play the entire time he's in office.

I note, it's often misleadingly reported that Trump has no reason not to release as there is no legal bar on releasing while under audit.  It's a question of fact and prudence, not of law.

I'm asserting that it's in the public interest for him to release his returns. Regardless of why the democrats are pushing for it, you're still providing cover for Trump's refusal which is almost certain aimed at preserving his public image at the expense of truth.

I'm asserting its against the public interest for candidates to release their returns, that it's little more than a scam designed to prop up professional politicians and discourage anyone with a complex tax history from running for office.

I do support non-partisan confidential review, which satisfies all of your legitimate concerns without risking the negatives.  But hey, compromise is evil.

And I agree, non-release is completely tied to Trump's public image.  Why should he have to release confidential and private records solely so that his political opponents can pull parts of them out of context to damage his reelection?

NobleHunter

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2019, 03:01:29 PM »
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I do support non-partisan confidential review, which satisfies all of your legitimate concerns without risking the negatives.  But hey, compromise is evil.

By the IRS. Which has been totally free of partisan bias and influence.

There's major problems with the review process even assuming it's objective. What are they supposed to do if they find something? How do they decide what "something" is? Are significant investments in France okay? How about Saudi Arabia? Russia? China? What counts as a significant investment? What resources are at their disposal to validate the returns?

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And I agree, non-release is completely tied to Trump's public image.  Why should he have to release confidential and private records solely so that his political opponents can pull parts of them out of context to damage his reelection?

Because he's probably hiding those records so he can keep lying to the American people. I know fact-checking is just a liberal conspiracy but if someone's claiming he's qualified to be President because he's an amazing businessman (The Best!) I don't think it's unreasonable to force him to back up those statements.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2019, 03:08:42 PM »
So if someone claimed to be a Constitutional Law expert, we should get his grade transcripts?  Or if someone claimed to be the most qualified candidate in history we should have had access to all the internal government files regarding her decision making process?

Or is this, once again, a standard that only applies to the other side?

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2019, 03:11:05 PM »
Pretty much everything sold at a yard sale is at a loss, so there's no income. Sales tax typically doesn't apply. Pegging value of a donation isn't some crapshoot, and you should be able to provide documentation of how you arrived at it. I would typically use something like ebay to determine a basis, since this is a market value.

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Sales tax requirement: At a recent conference for small business owners, a representative from the Texas Comptroller's office shocked the audience when, during a discussion of state sales tax rules, she informed us that if we hold more than two garage sales a year, we must get a sales tax permit from the state.

That's right. If you are a serial garage sale holder, the Lone Star State wants to collect 6.25 percent of what you get for every old tchotchke you sell from your front yard.

And don't forget, my fellow Texans, that depending on where you live, you've got up to 2 percent more in local sales taxes.

It took 2 seconds to find that rule, but most people wouldn't even dream of looking it up, even though they are painfully aware that sales tax is omnipresent every time they approach a cash register.

Most people don't claim items that they shove into donation boxes or drop off at Goodwill. Yeah, they will give you a blank form, they're in on the whole wink-wink.

I don't dispute that the 10% of Americans who have real estate investments can wander into gray areas, and that the even smaller percentage of people who are trying to determine amortization rates of capital equipment can land in conflicting and overlapping rules.

The Clintons got investigated for years over the Whitewater development, their taxes were voluntarily disclosed. Mitt Romney didn't exactly have simple tax returns, his taxes were voluntarily disclosed. It is in the public interest to know what a candidate's effective tax rate is, what they donate to charity, and whether their business dealings are as successful as they claim them to be.

NobleHunter

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2019, 03:15:21 PM »
So if someone claimed to be a Constitutional Law expert, we should get his grade transcripts?  Or if someone claimed to be the most qualified candidate in history we should have had access to all the internal government files regarding her decision making process?

Or is this, once again, a standard that only applies to the other side?

How many candidates have released their grade transcripts? How relevant are college grades to being an expert on Constitutional Law? How many candidates have released internal government documents relating to their decision making process? Does decision-making process have anything to do with qualifications?


Crunch

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2019, 03:16:41 PM »
One thing I don't understand is why a man who said he would release his tax returns (like all recent Presidential candidates have) "as soon as the audit is finished," is now fighting tooth-and-nail to keep them from Congress.  ???
Because it's none of their business. Tax filings are private and trying to get them for politically motivated reasons is illegal (26 U.S. Code § 6103). Nobody should have to give political opponents his tax return so they can dig through them for dirt. The IRS has an audit process, Trump is going through that process or completed it. That should be the end of his tax returns if the IRS accepts them. That you want to violate the law to get Trump is pretty typical any more.

And do all the arguments for preventing the House from looking at Trump's returns also apply to Trump's right to look at anyone's tax returns?  ???
Yes, ackshually, they do. Your tax returns are just as protected as Trump's. The law is applied equally to all of us, as it should be.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2019, 03:25:35 PM »
If it was proven that Trump cheated the system and others for his own benefit and that his business acumen wasn't what he said it was would anyone care.

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2019, 03:39:46 PM »
If it was proven that Trump cheated the system and others for his own benefit and that his business acumen wasn't what he said it was would anyone care.

Good question. I suspect that the former would just increase the level of support from his base, because they would admire someone who games the system to avoid the confiscation of his property to pay for things like welfare.

I think that the latter would be waved away as TDS and false reporting by the media, OR just an example of the former. (Trump was probably a lot more successful, but he hid the money from The Man)

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #35 on: May 08, 2019, 03:50:43 PM »
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I think that the latter would be waved away as TDS and false reporting by the media, OR just an example of the former. (Trump was probably a lot more successful, but he hid the money from The Man)

I agree. So is their any value in going after the tax returns?
On the one hand I think exposing the truth about Trump is important on the other hand I'm tired of it all as I don't believe it will make any difference... at least not while he's in office.
Is it wrong to disengage from such matters and leave it to history to sort out? 

I'm thinking that if everyone stopped talking about and reacting to Trump he would melt
 

Crunch

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2019, 04:09:32 PM »
If it was proven that Trump cheated the system and others for his own benefit and that his business acumen wasn't what he said it was would anyone care.

Cheated. What's that mean? If he did something illegal, then that's one thing. If he gamed the system and the IRS accepted the return as fair and legitimate, then that's another.

And by proven, are you looking for the same level of proof that was in the Russia collusion hoax? Because that's almost certainly what this is, just the foundation of yet another alt-left hoax.

As for his business acumen, the guy figured out a way to legally avoid paying any taxes for ten years on millions of dollars in income, that's the story that's coming out right now. He made millions but managed to use the system to his advantage to show a huge loss and legally avoid the tax bill. I find that pretty damn solid business acumen.

Let's ask this: If it was proven Trump adhered to the letter of the law in all his taxes and that his business acumen was exactly what he said it was, would you care? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2019, 04:39:08 PM »
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Cheated. What's that mean? If he did something illegal, then that's one thing. If he gamed the system and the IRS accepted the return as fair and legitimate, then that's another.

I think you proved my point that any findings of illegal activity  even a conviction in the court would be discounted

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Let's ask this: If it was proven Trump adhered to the letter of the law in all his taxes and that his business acumen was exactly what he said it was, would you care? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't.
If in a court a law such was proven I'd have to let it go. I'm pretty confidant that history will reveal the truth about Trump business acumen verse promotion savvy.

That said we would have to better define what makes a man "good at business" to really debate the findings.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #38 on: May 08, 2019, 04:42:58 PM »
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As for his business acumen, the guy figured out a way to legally avoid paying any taxes for ten years on millions of dollars in income, that's the story that's coming out right now. He made millions but managed to use the system to his advantage to show a huge loss and legally avoid the tax bill. I find that pretty damn solid business acumen.

And if its proven that Trump's Latest Tax reform makes such 'cleverness' easier you don't have a problem with that.
You don't have a problem with the rich living the high life, being protected by the army, police, firemen, use of roads, infrastructure.... without paying their share?
Is such such 'cleverness' ethical?

To me its like admiring a serial killer or bank robber that gets away with it because they get away with it.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2019, 04:47:21 PM »
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Cheated. What's that mean? If he did something illegal, then that's one thing. If he gamed the system and the IRS accepted the return as fair and legitimate, then that's another.

I think you proved my point that any findings of illegal activity  even a conviction in the court would be discounted

I don't think he "proved your point," he called it out for being imprecise.  Everyone who reads it is going to read what their bias dictates.

If you mean whether it would make a difference if Trump broke the law (and not just in a technical sense), then yes it would make a difference.  The right has a LONG history of tearing down its leaders for moral failings like that.  If it's a disputable assertion where a liberal prosecutor calls it a crime, but a neutral one wouldn't then no.

If you mean he did something totally legal but questionable in the "new left morality," would it make a difference?  No.  I can guaranty that as a Real Estate developer he had massive tax write offs related to depreciation.  These are purely tax accounting matters that cause all real estate to look like it's losing money for years, sometimes decades before the profits come in, if you have enough capital you can keep expanding your book to keep depreciation higher than income and pay little to no taxes for decades while raking in massive profits on your accounting records (as opposed to tax).  I imagine that the left will treat this as a crime, even though it's literally operating as intended.  I would not hold that against him.

So be clear, what do you mean?

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If in a court a law such was proven I'd have to let it go. I'm pretty confidant that history will reveal the truth about Trump business acumen verse promotion savvy.

It's already proven.  The fact that papers are playing on tax accounting confusion to make it appear otherwise shouldn't fool you.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2019, 04:49:15 PM »
You don't have a problem with the rich living the high life, being protected by the army, police, firemen, use of roads, infrastructure.... without paying their share?

The rich paid for all of that, pretty much for 75%+, which is more than their fair share.  Don't you have a problem with everyone else not paying their "fair" share.

Or better yet, define "fair"?  Is it from each according to his means, to each according to his need?

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #41 on: May 08, 2019, 05:01:06 PM »
I really didn't want to get to deep and intended that the question was straight forward.

I'll try again. If it was proven to your own ethical, moral, legal standards that Trump broke the law would it matter?

My feeling is that his supporters would look the other way denying their own values, while those that don't support Trump would shake their impotent fists in the air.

I really believe that so wonder whats the point in these investigation and if it might be better for all involved to leave that stuff to history and turn focus on policies and what not
This is a ethical question for me.
If I truly believe Trump belongs in jail should I support any investigation or is it apathy to let it go because I don't think any findings would change anything?


« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 05:04:12 PM by rightleft22 »

D.W.

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2019, 05:03:32 PM »
"leaving that stuff to history" becomes precedent.  Those that shake their impotent fists do so with at least the hopes this does not become a new normal.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2019, 05:07:38 PM »
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"leaving that stuff to history" becomes precedent.  Those that shake their impotent fists do so with at least the hopes this does not become a new normal.

 that's is exactly my struggle. On the one hand I want to fight and ensure that this *censored* dons't become the new normal while on the other hand feel that because any investigation won't change the current normal such investigations might actually be working against the desired outcome. 
Its the wrong battle to fight or the tactics being deployed to fight it are wrong

« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 05:11:15 PM by rightleft22 »

TheDrake

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2019, 05:15:40 PM »
An example of something we know Trump has done in the legal but icky (to me) realm:

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President Donald Trump is able to pay tens of thousands of dollars less in property taxes on his New Jersey golf courses because of a goat herd, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing public records, The Journal reported in 2016 that Trump had been able to save thousands of dollars in property taxes on his two properties in Bedminster — where he is this week for a "working vacation" — and Colts Neck. Because the properties have a goat herd, as well as hay farming and woodcutting, New Jersey law permits them to receive a farmland tax break.

Therefore, Trump pays reduced property taxes on the parts of his golf courses dedicated to farming, the report says.

Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster maintains 113 acres of hay farming and eight goats, and the property in Colts Neck has 40 acres of hay production and trees, The Journal reported, citing tax-break applications reviewed in 2016 during the presidential campaign.

The Journal estimated that Trump paid less than $1,000 a year in property taxes on land that would typically require roughly $80,000.

Some people could call this great business acumen. I acknowledge it is legal, but its a complete corruption of a tax break intended to help farmers, not billionaire owners of golf courses. It is something that probably didn't flip a single vote for or against him - except maybe in NJ where all the other businesses are picking up the slack for Trumps tax avoidance. And he probably does this with every one of his properties and businesses - tacking something on to sneakily qualify for a tax break.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #45 on: May 08, 2019, 05:16:52 PM »
If Trump broke the law it would matter.  It would also matter if the only way this was discovered was by violating his rights and ignoring the Constitution - that's a line that the Mueller investigation may have crossed, and that the NY AG and Congressional committees are currently crossing.

Does it matter to you that the left is abusing the power of the government to investigate someone in violation of the Constitution, law, and bounds on ethical prosecution in search of a crime?  Does it bother you that they have decided he's guilty - without any regard to the evidence or to actually showing a crime that occurred?

My point on this has repeatedly been that if you are allowed to violate others rights and abuse the investigative powers of the government you can always find a crime - isn't there a direct quote from Stalin to that effect?  But that's not how a free society that respects the rule of law is supposed to operate.

I firmly believe that in 1000 years Trump couldn't do as much damage to our laws and processes as the left is doing.  I mean just today, NY state changed their laws, with effectively a Bill of Attainder, to break confidentiality and release Trump's tax returns if Congress asked. 

I'm heavily offended that you're calling into question my commitment to the Rule of Law while the left doesn't believe in any law at all.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #46 on: May 08, 2019, 05:38:29 PM »
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I'm heavily offended that you're calling into question my commitment to the Rule of Law while the left doesn't believe in any law at all.

But I wasn't. I was calling into question whether these investigations should stop. Yes based on my feelings that I don't think any findings would or could change things for various reasons. I can see how that could be offensive but its just a feeling. Its generalizing

Oh and yes I am trouble by the lengths the opposition is willing to go in pursuit of these investigations...  I'm also troubled by the lengths the administration is taking to stop them
I dislike the whole mess
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 05:42:38 PM by rightleft22 »

Pete at Home

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #47 on: May 08, 2019, 08:44:32 PM »
Farm aid being coopted to pay for golf courses? Close that loophole. That's disgusting.

rightleft22

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #48 on: May 09, 2019, 10:31:23 AM »
I was thinking about the question I asked. The question of if it was proven that Trump illegally cheated the system and others for his own benefit and that his business acumen wasn't what he said it was would it matter?  This was a Yes and No question, but the immediate responses were about semantics on what words like cheat and illegal mean, what is fair, what is prove, what is a good business acumen, how should the evidence be gathered? And of course, the well lets turn around and say the evidence proved Trump innocent would it matter? (for me it would so Yes)   
I though that my feeling that any such findings would not matter was proven because the answer should have been yes or no. I have no hope for democracy, dialog or the future of the planet.
 
TDS of the left is a real thing but something else is also going on with the right – and I equate it to the same thing that got OJ and M J off.  Deep down even the most ardent supports felt something ‘off’ with these men but would never, couldn't accept any evidence regardless what it was that they could be quality.

Seriati

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Re: The Pandora's box of tax returns
« Reply #49 on: May 09, 2019, 10:41:10 AM »
This was a Yes and No question, but the immediate responses were about semantics...

Have you stopped lying on message boards?

Have you stopped  making illegal advances on children?

Have you stopped asking unfair yes/no questions?

I note, you added the word "illegal" this time when you rephrased the question, does that mean you recognize that your first phrasing was unfair (which prompted reactions for clarification).  Just because you can phrase a question as yes or no doesn't mean that the answer is yes or no.