Donald’s Unhappy Returns

I’m sure we are all shocked, shocked, that our great former president has, in addition to the many politically motivated attacks on him by the Democrats, had his tax returns made public.

He made it clear back when he was running for president that he’d love to show us his returns but couldn’t because he was being audited. Strange. Somehow, the IRS had no idea they were auditing him.

But why would anyone think he should have been? He told us he was completely on the up and up. That should have put all our minds at rest.

As far as releasing the returns, why should someone running an international business that he effectively would continue to control through his family while in office be expected to make his finances known? Just because every previous president in recent history had done that? Get serious.

The fact that Donald paid just about zero income tax for years obviously should not have aroused suspicions in the IRS. They know real estate is a very complicated business in which the values of properties can be volatile. It wasn’t the Trump company’s fault that just when they were applying for loans the values soared and just when they reported the values on the tax returns they plummeted.

No doubt, like most Americans, you carefully reviewed the returns as soon as they were released and, like me, realized immediately this business genius must have been surrounded by the most incompetent employees. For most of the years we got to view, his gross adjusted income was negative by tens of millions of dollars. It may seem strange that the guy isn’t living out of a cardboard box and wearing a barrel, but somehow, even after not making a dime and losing hundreds of millions in his businesses, he had enough money to give millions, in cash, to charity. What a guy. What a financial genius.

Some idiots think someone who is running for president or occupies the Oval Office should consider paying their fair share of tax to be a patriotic duty. That they should set a good example. Well, he did. Didn’t he teach us all that “the less taxes you pay the smarter you are,” and, if you do have to pay any, you can be sure the government will waste it?

As a shrewd businessman who has gone bankrupt over the past twenty or thirty years more times than the Washington Commanders have changed quarterbacks and their owner, Don’s buddy Daniel Snyder, has grabbed the tushies of his cheerleader squad, he understands prudent financial management. President Trump was the only president in history to preside over a government that didn’t waste a nickel of our tax money. We got a big beautiful wall for it. What better way to use our hard earned dough?

I can relate to our beleaguered former president, because a lot of my money has been wasted by the government over the years, and I mean the maximum possible.

In addition to his far superior intelligence, Donald had a big advantage over me. Because he had sprawling Byzantine returns and reported huge losses every year, the IRS, whose staff is composed of three agents who share one 1995 era computer and a half time secretary, apparently didn’t even consider taking a close look into his finances. They did audit him once during his presidency after someone pointed out the president is supposed to be audited every year. “Gosh, he is? Who knew?” was the reaction of the head of IRS with whom Donald “never had this conversation.” Ever vigilant, he got right on it and put one rookie agent equipped with an abacus on the case. Hey, they did the best they could on the $200 a year budget Congress approved for them.

You see, not having been as smart as Donald Trump (but hey, who can be as smart as someone who richly deserved the Noble (sic) prize in Covfefe Sciences and won re-election before anybody even voted) I, like a fool, submitted squeaky clean returns my whole life. I should have known there was something wrong with that approach when a year into the Reagan administration I heard on the radio that Saint Ronald paid the same amount less income tax that year as I had paid more.

Try wrapping your head around the fact that Ronald told everyone not to trust the very organization he was in charge of and that the best thing government can do for us is—absolutely nothing. No wonder Republicans worship his memory. Their memory of him, not his actual memory which he lost some time into his first term without anyone noticing.

I made my first big mistake when I went into private practice. Prior to that, I really had no way to cheat since I was a salaried employee who had withholding taken out automatically and whose every dime was accounted for on my pay slips. But when I became a business, I could itemize deductions, mortgage interest, medical expenses, charity and the like, as well as the cost of my business overhead expenses. (In their infinite wisdom, the government has recently eliminated all those deductions unless you earn a few million or more each year, which, of course, is only fair.) For a while there, though, like Donald, I was in a position where I could–well, let’s not say falsify– maximize— yeah, that’s a better word– the the deductions and squeeze a few bucks past the outstretched hand of the Feds.

Stupidly, I didn’t.

Not only that, but I could have pocketed cash payments for services rendered. My first day on the job, the secretary whom my predecessor had loaned me for a month to help me get started, strolled into my inner office and plunked a wad of cash on my desk. “What’s this?” I asked. She replied that since her previous boss never reported a cash payment for 32 years, she figured I’d be smart enough to do the same. When I told her to post it on the ledger she looked at me as though I was the one who needed the psychiatric treatment.

I persevered in that folly for my entire career.

You see, while I was in private practice I was terrified of only two things— besides being given a puppy for Christmas. One, that I’d be sued. The other, that my tax returns would be audited and somehow found deficient. After submitting my returns, I’d lie (NOT “lay.” Refer to my blog, “Lay Lady, Lay.”) awake nights imagining myself being handcuffed and hauled away for some kind of tax fraud I’d somehow, unawares, committed.

The assurances of my accountant to the contrary did little good to cool my fevered imagination. Why should they? Although I had no understanding of how he figured it all out, if things went south there was a disclaimer on our agreement to the effect that I had read the return carefully, confirmed it was properly prepared, and he had no responsibility for nothin’ nohow if the auditors found some egregious error.

He then took the figures I’d spent hours compiling and handed them to an elf who worked in the basement of his building. The elf plugged the numbers into a computer that spit out the return in 3.5 seconds– effectively making his fee a hundred thousand dollars an hour.

(Ha-Ha, Mike. Just kidding. I know it’s more like two hundred thousand.)

Miraculously, I was neither sued nor audited while I was actively working. Meanwhile, I had often told my wife that although charity begins at home and we should be careful not to be overly generous during the years we were building up our nest egg, that some day we would make up for it. Sure enough, in due time we were in a financial position to fulfill that promise.

And we did. We donated significantly more to charity over the course of a few years than we had in the past twenty. Unlike Donald, I didn’t have the good sense to claim it as cash contributions.

Need I inform you we got audited? Through our accountant, we furnished the substantiating documents.

Great news! They agreed our deductions were legit.

And we didn’t mind a bit that the accountant fee cost more than the tax savings we would have realized on the charitable deductions.

Now, as we savvy businessmen like to say, here’s the bottom line.

As one who has seen first hand how the IRS can nail a perfectly honest person for no good reason, I can empathize with our squeaky clean former leader. And, really, why should they waste tax payer funds putting a team of agents on a guy like Trump who has big time lawyers (that he also can write off) to give them endless headaches when there is such low hanging fruit as you and I to be picked?

From personal experience, I empathize with our beleaguered former leader. Nothing is more insulting or terrifying than being audited.

Especially when, just like Donald Trump, you are the model of honesty.

2 Comments

  1. Didn’t 2022 start January 1, 2020? Sure seems like it. I forget what year the tRump administration redid some tax laws, but when I asked my tax person if I would get a break he said unless you invest in real estate. Apparently, spending money on your house doesn’t count.

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  2. Let’s hear it for the I.R.S.! Remember that Al Capone was convicted and imprisoned for tax evasion rather than for murder. What matters is that the government caught him.

    Like

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