The Clinton campaign pounced all over Donald Trump after the presumptive Republican nominee told the American people that the amount that he doesn’t pay in taxes is none of their business.
Clinton campaign, Deputy Communications Director Christina Reynolds said, “Our country has a long history of presidential candidates releasing their full tax returns and for good reason. Voters deserve to know what’s in Donald Trump’s returns – how exactly he makes his money and what he does with it. Enough is enough. We know he’s done his best to avoid paying his fair share of taxes. What else is he hiding in those tax returns?”
The question isn’t how much Trump has paid in taxes, but what Trump has done to avoiding paying his fair share of taxes.
The Clinton campaign also sent around an op-ed by supporter Michael Rattner in The New York Times that laid out what Trump is likely hiding:
Real estate guys can take advantage of the best loopholes left in the tax code, thanks in part to some aggressive nudging of lawmakers. For starters, real estate investors can take deductions for the ostensible depreciation of the value of their buildings, even though the point of owning buildings is that they generally appreciate.
For another, they often borrow against those properties, and because they hold these investments in partnerships or limited liability companies, the interest payments are tax-deductible.
“If you get close to paying taxes, you just buy another building,” a real estate friend told me.
Donald Trump’s defensive none of your business answer on his tax rate, along with his continued dependence on flimsy and debunked excuses for why he can’t release his returns are both signals that the issue is a sore spot.
Trump constructed an image for himself as being the voice of the angry outsider populist, when his tax returns are likely to reveal a man who has used his wealth to become an insider and work the system to his advantage.
Republicans have learned nothing from Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. Trump is Romney on a larger scale, which is why the Clinton campaign is using the tax returns issue to define Donald Trump.