Trump’s tax records

There’s been a claimed leak of Donald Trump’s tax records, but they are from 1995 don’t appear to reveal what tax if any he has paid since then, just that he was exempt paying some tax for 18 years.

New York Times: Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

That’s ‘could have avoided paying tax’ – without seeing his tax records since then it is not possible to know if he has avoided paying tax  since then.

Although Mr. Trump’s taxable income in subsequent years is as yet unknown, a $916 million loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.

So this doesn’t seem to be a huge revelation, but it puts Trump and his refusal to reveal his tax records in the spotlight. He is the first candidate since Richard Nixon to not reveal his records.

Trump’s response:

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Little tries to emulate Winston

Instead of taking stock of a failing strategy and changing direction Andrew little seems to have chosen to go further down the dirt track.

Andrew Little: Will he join me and release his tax records to dispel rumours that he has benefited from the use of tax havens?

Little then tabled his tax records from the past few years, challenging Key to do likewise. This stunt is as likely to backfire on Little as score a hit on his opponent – actually, going by Labour’s recent track record it’s more likely to blow up in Little’s face.

Is he trying to impress Winston Peters by rumour mongering in Parliament?

Trying to promote rumours is ingrained in Peters’ modus operandi, but it’s sad to see the Labour leader resorting to this.

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of his statements in relation to the Panama Papers?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Andrew Little: Does he accept that the Panama Papers show that New Zealand – based foreign trusts are being used, at the very least, for tax avoidance?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I have not seen the Panama Papers, so I cannot comment on whether that is the case or not.

Andrew Little: Why did he limit the tax dodging review to only the operation of the law in respect of foreign trusts in New Zealand, and not, for example, the law around portfolio investment entity funds and tax paid by multinationals?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think the review being undertaken by John Shewan will be quite comprehensive when it comes to disclosure and the issues around tax. Where that will ultimately go is a matter of us working with the OECD, and our officials are going to Paris on Wednesday to be part of a global meeting on that.

Andrew Little: Why did he push through a law in 2011, which Labour opposed, that cut the tax rate for foreign funds to zero, a move that PriceWaterhousecoopers said put New Zealand on a par with renowned tax havens like Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Caymans?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That member would need to direct that question to the Minister of Revenue. I don’t have those facts.

Andrew Little: Can he confirm that New Zealand was kicked off the EU’s white list following his law change because New Zealand no longer had equivalent “legal requirements of money-laundering and terrorist-financing prevention”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not have that data but I can confirm that New Zealand is ranked in the top 20 in the world when it came to disclosure matters according to the OECD.

Andrew Little: Why does he defend tax-avoiding multinational corporations and owners of foreign trusts who are just using New Zealand to avoid paying tax?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are a variety of reasons why people use foreign trusts, including ones that may be registered in New Zealand. I am sure many of them are legitimate.

Andrew Little: Does he think he has achieved his goal of making New Zealand the Jersey of the South Pacific? And do not pull the wool over our eyes.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do think there is a role for New Zealand in the provision of financial services as part of a diversified economy. I think we can do that quite successfully. My other goal has been to lead National to 50 percent in the polls, not 28 percent. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not mind a certain amount of interjection but when it is getting to that level I am going to have to start mentioning people by name.

Andrew Little: Has he ever been involved, personally or professionally, in a foreign trust or other vehicle used to reduce tax?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have no ministerial responsibility for that but I am quite happy for the member to look at the answers I gave in my post Cabinet press conference yesterday.

Andrew Little: Will he join me and release his tax records to dispel rumours that he has benefited from the use of tax havens?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, there are no such rumours. Secondly, I do not think the member actually should table his tax return. I think he should table his CV because he will be out looking for a new job soon.

Andrew Little: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition wants to raise a point of order. Point of order, Andrew Little.

Andrew Little: I seek—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order. It will be heard in silence.

Andrew Little: I seek leave to table my income tax records from the year ended 31 March 2010 to the year ended 31 March 2016.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those particular records. Is there any objection? There is none. They can be tabled. [Interruption] Order! Mr Robertson, when I stand to my feet, it is at that time—

Grant Robertson: I was distracted over here.

Mr SPEAKER: I accept that he may have been distracted, but he needs to look in this direction a bit more often.

  • Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.