- - Monday, October 3, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Every small-business man and woman in America, every farmer, rancher, and investor knows that when you have a bad year with your business you get to offset future profits against your losses. This is pretty standard stuff. If the government didn’t allow businesses to write off losses, there would be a lot less risk-taking, a lot fewer new businesses started, and a lot fewer American jobs.

Everyone seems to know this except Hillary Clinton and her campaign subsidiary, The New York Times. The New York Times on Saturday reported that Donald Trump declared $916 million in losses in 1995 on his state tax returns. This is hardly a major scoop, since the Donald has said many times that one year he lost $1 billion. When you’re a risk-taker and a builder who makes multibillion-dollar decisions, you’re going to have bad years, just as farmers who grow cotton, corn and beans have bad yields in some years. If you have more bad years than good years, you’re on your way out of business.

One of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history, Steve Jobs of Apple, had major losses and new products that crashed and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Was Steve Jobs a thief, a cheat and tax dodger, too?

The New York Times insinuates that Donald Trump exploited these losses to avoid paying income taxes for the following 20 years. This judgment was not based on facts, figures or other knowledge. No one at the IRS has criminally divulged the Trump federal tax returns, not yet, but someone there is probably just now resisting the temptation to drop the dirty dime. But that is a felony offense, which deters the wise.

We can have a lively debate on whether Mr. Trump should or shouldn’t reveal his tax returns. There is no law that requires him to do so. If voters decide to vote against him because he has not gone public with his tax returns, fair enough. That’s their prerogative as Americans. But for The New York Times to report a stolen document — and then to insinuate that he hasn’t paid income taxes for 20 years — is one reason why the media is held in such low regard.

Hillary, trying not to miss a beat, parroted the line on Monday that the Donald paid no income tax and that is why government is in a shambles. The woman has no shame. It’s an unsubstantiated charge, and it’s a safe bet that Donald Trump pays more income, sales, property, and business taxes in a year than the Clintons have paid in a lifetime. In a delicious twist of irony, it turns out that Hillary has used loss carry-overs to avoid paying taxes herself in recent years.

The cheap shot by The New York Times appears to have backfired. Smart readers see through such sleazy journalism. Donald Trump has many flaws, and his behavior as a candidate has certainly been erratic. But he is a success in business and an employer of thousands of Americans.

Donald Trump didn’t write the tax laws. Congress, including senators like Hillary Clinton, did. The tax laws should be vastly simplified with unfair loopholes eliminated. The Donald says he wants to do that. Hillary says she doesn’t.

Now the political class and the media attack Mr. Trump for playing by their rules. When the Clintons play by the same rules imposed on everyone else and game the system to get very, very rich, there isn’t much protest. So much for tax fairness in America.

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