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Monday, October 3, 2016

Despite avoiding personal income tax, the government still gets more revenue from Donald Trump than you'll ever pay

Every April, I take a shoe box filled with receipts, and an envelope with my income statements, and deposit the lot with my accountant. He does calculations, which he learned how to do over the course of years in a specialized university program and a great amount of ongoing supplementary reading, and arrives at a figure. He then gives all that data and his sums to a partner in the accounting firm, who has even more experience than my experienced accountant, to verify his conclusion. Then I get an email telling me how much tax I owe to Mister Government that year.

It's safe to assume that my taxes are a hell of a lot less complicated than Donald Trump's.

The ridiculous hysteria from Hillary Clinton supporters about Trump not having paid taxes over a number of years is one of the most egregious examples of manufactured outrage to infect a political season in decades. Do these people imagine that Trump, who heads a conglomerate worth billions of dollars, spends time hunched over income tax forms and mountains of receipts trying to figure out ways to cheat the government?

An operation that size has teams of accountants and tax lawyers working year-round, but in the end, the process isn't all that different from what the typical person who doesn't do their own taxes goes through. Your accountant tells you how much you owe and you pay it. If your accountant can find legal deductions that minimize your tax bill, then you take them.

That's why Trump was able to avoid paying taxes on his personal income for a number of years. That's how the tax laws work.

But there's more to the story than just that. because it's not as if Donald Trump isn't responsible for providing the US government with any revenue.

Trump's enterprises employ thousands of people, virtually all of whom pay income tax. His hotels and other ventures pay and collect sales taxes which are forwarded to the government. All those people spend money, creating jobs and more revenue for others who also pay tax. Bottom line is that for the average person reading this, Trump will have generated more government revenue taken in the form of taxes in any given year than you will over the course of a hundred lifetimes. As it turns out, many of those criticizing Trump for avoiding taxes are doing exactly the same thing as he, though on a smaller scale, and in some cases on an even larger scale.

The argument Trump makes that the government would have wasted his money is a bit spurious, but not entirely. The government does many things that are essential and requires the means with which to do it. But on the other hand, government waste is indeed rampant. Take the provincial government of Ontario for example, where taxes to the tune of billions of dollars have been effectively flushed down the toilet to pay for the Liberal Party's purchase of votes. More taxes, in the hundreds of millions, were stolen from proper use in what boils down to a kick-back scheme for their "green energy" donors. After wasting millions of tax dollars, it's no coincidence that the Ontario government suddenly abandoned their plans to expand wind turbine energy right after fundraising rules changed so that they could no longer take money from donors in their 'pay-for-play' deals.

When taxes are deployed in deplorable means like that, it's hard to argue that anyone should hand over a single cent to government beyond what the law requires.

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