Donald Trump, who made a name for himself spearheading the deeply offensive “birther” movement calling for Obama’s birth certificate, suddenly doesn’t want to release his own tax returns. An investigation by ABC News might have clues as to his sudden change of heart. It turns out that the presumptive Republican nominee is almost certainly hiding something in those documents.
No matter how he spins it, Trump is misrepresenting the value of the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. The reality TV star wrote on a candidate disclosure form that the sprawling luxury property was worth $50 million, but told local appropriators that the land was worth only $1.35 million – a figure that stunned the town of Ossining, who had banked on it being worth more and had budgeted accordingly.
Trump’s undervalued declaration cuts his tax burden by 90%, which forces the town to make up the difference. “Trump says he represents the little guy, but the little guy is going to have to pay his taxes for him here in Ossining” remarked town supervisor Dana Levenberg. “Look, everybody is looking to pay less in taxes. Personally, I would hope that anybody that is representing our country as president of the United States would also be willing to pay their own fair share of taxes on properties and on whatever it is on their income. That’s really, in my opinion, what makes America great, is everybody pitching in and doing their part.”
It just goes to show how empty his claims of being “for the people” truly is, and how frustrating it is to see working-class Americans falling so hard for the lies of a predatory capitalist – for this is a pattern in Trump’s business history. Much of his wealth comes from the careful and systematic dodging of his rightful tax obligations, using every trick in the book to avoid paying his fair share.
When Trump built the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, he was obligated to return a portion of the profits back to the city – but misrepresented that too, taking $3 million out of the city’s projected revenue and causing budgetary havoc. “He cheated the city of a substantial amount of money. This wasn’t just a good business deal. This wasn’t just business thinking. This was manipulation … It was an example of extraordinary flim-flammery” says New York city auditor Karen Burstein.
While Trump complains about his constant IRS audits – the reasons for which are now painfully obvious – there is no reason for him to not release his tax returns. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to because it will expose him for what he truly is – a liar, a cheat, and a fraud. Whether that will make any impression on his rabid supporters is questionable, since none of his many other scandals have made an impact at this point. But it is clear evidence of what kind of a narcissistic shyster we’re dealing with here.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.