We have two questions about the report!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

They take shape in its opening paragraphs: We have two questions about the New York Times' bombshell report.

The questions take shape in its opening paragraphs. Our first questions goes like this:

Question 1: If Trump was losing tons of money, why would he pay income tax?

This question takes shape in the first four paragraphs. The Times report starts like this:

BUETTNER (9/28/20): Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years—largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

[...]

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

That's what the Times report says. It says that Trump was "losing much more money than he made," apparently on a regular basis. It seems to say that he was "rack[ing] up chronic losses" year after year after year.

Our question, and yes, it's bone simple: If a businessperson loses more money than he takes in, what would be pay income taxes on? 

If he loses more money than he takes in, in what sense does he have any income at all? Why would he pay income taxes?

That's our first bone-simple question. Our second one goes like this:

Question 2: Did the New York Times really acquire Donald Trump's tax returns?

Did the Times acquire Trump's tax returns? The report doesn't quite seem to say that. This is paragraph 5, continuing from above:

BUETTNER ET AL (continuing directly): The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

In that passage, the reporters clearly say that they didn't obtain the commander-in-chief's "personal returns for 2018 or 2019." 

Our question: Did they obtain his "personal returns" for any other year? It doesn't seem clear that they make this claim in that passage, or anywhere else in their lengthy report, although they always may have.

In that passage, the reporters only say that they have obtained the commander's "tax-return data." In the next paragraph, it almost sounds like they're saying that they obtained the gent's "returns." But we'd have to say that they don't flatly make that statement.

If "the tax data examined by the Times" (paragraph 10) are accurate, this would presumably qualify as a distinction without a difference. But did they actually obtain the commander's "personal returns?" 

This seems like a basic question. Has the question been answered?

For extra credit: If a businessman loses a boatload of money, does he owe income tax?

We'll guess the answer is buried within our convoluted tax system.  We'll guess that, for all practical purposes, the complexity of the system may make questions like that impossible to answer.

We'll guess that, for all practical purposes, our tax system is too complex to explain. This would make it another one of our many failing systems. 

We have a boatload of failing systems. Is our first bone-simple question today perhaps too hard to explain?


44 comments:

  1. "about the New York Times' bombshell report"

    Ha-ha: the bombshell, dear Bob? Another Bombshell? The Walls Are Closing In, The Tipping Point, The Beginning Of The End?

    Why, thanks for the laughs, dear Bob.

    And why do you liberals care so much about other people's taxes anyway? Envy much?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will understand when you come out of mommy’s basement and are required to pay them, an act which patriotic citizens understand supports the military that the orange traitor is so fond of disparaging. A traitor funded by a money laundering bank (inconvenient fact for you) with close ties to Russian mobster oligarchs.

      Delete
    2. Poor, poor Donald Trump. Maybe if he laid-off the lattes, avocado toast, and Adderall abuse, he might have two dimes to rub together.

      Delete
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      Delete
  2. Trump says the Times's tax info is incorrect. I don't trust Trump and I don't trust the New York Times. I don't know which of them to disbelieve more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When everything is a conspiracy, nothing is a conspiracy.

      Alex Jones, take a bow. Your work is done here.

      Delete
    2. Republicans not caring a whit that the President is a national security risk, helps explain Republican charges that "Democrats hate America".

      All of them, Katie.

      Delete
    3. I don't know which of them to disbelieve more.

      If only there was a way for the Acting President to prove who is telling the truth.

      Any ideas, David, you fascist prick?

      I don't trust Trump... says David who is enthusiastically supporting his reelection.

      Boy I can't wait until Trump releases it all to show how wrong the Times is. What a fucking game changer. Instant turnaround in the polls as DJT marches to victory and burns down the hated NY Times like Sherman thru Atlanta.

      Delete
    4. When Trump said that the Times' information was incorrect, what did he mean? Seems like he provides scant few details. Secondly, The Times doesn't lie; it certainly has made a shit ton of mistakes in their reporting, but they don't intentionally print things that they know to be false, whereas Trump does.

      Delete
    5. @Ilya: "... they don't intentionally print things that they know to be false ..."
      And you know this how?

      Delete
    6. David,
      How much of that consulting fee did Ivanka have to kickback to the old man?

      Delete
    7. @Procopius,

      The way zombie media operate is they fabricate an anonymous "source" and then "report" their goebbelsian propaganda as if it's coming from this "source".

      In this case they apparently did manage to steal some numbers. It seems likely that they stole them a long time ago, and kept them till now, hoping to affect the election.

      And now their little goebbelses produced a bunch of innuendo and outright smears around these numbers.

      But since everyone who's not a liberal zombie already knows what goebbelsian NYT is, every Bombshell is likely to create more backlash than the effect they intended.

      Delete
    8. Mao,
      That's not what happened when the, no doubt about it, Right-wing NY Times spent 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care that Hillary Clinton was using a personal email server.
      Of course, the NY Times Right-wing reporting didn't put Trump in the White House. The Republican base's love for Trump's bigotry did that.

      Delete
    9. Just as a reminder to that Mao. Here is the entire list of people who cared about Hillary Clinton's email protocols:

      Delete
    10. "@Ilya: "... they don't intentionally print things that they know to be false ..."
      And you know this how?"

      Because they would get sued.

      Delete
    11. When they're sued, they settle, dear dembot. No worries: the Deep State will send more dough.

      Delete
  3. Question 1 that Somerby poses is nonsense. The answer is in this wording, which Somerby himself quotes:

    "His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes."

    Note the word portray. It refers to a picture or story being told, not to truth.

    Note the words "aggressively employs". This says that Trump is using his portrayal of losses to achieve a goal.

    What is the goal? To avoid paying taxes.

    Trump uses loans and mortgages to make it appear that he is losing money while taking in massive amounts of money and never paying those loans back (or using new loans to retire old ones. Mary Trump explains how Fred and Donald did this early on with their rental properties. Tax evasion was part of the family business, according to her. Maybe Somerby skipped that part, since it didn't talk about Trump directly.

    The answer is in the quotes: "he reported losing much more money than he made". That says he reported this, not that he did it. The tax fraud is the point.

    Somerby Question 2 pins a faint hope on a language quibble over what the data was that the New York Times report is based on. This is the finest hair-splitting I've seen Somerby do in his many years here. Does Somerby really think that the NY Times is making this stuff up?

    We have seen enough of Trump's grifting in other contexts to lend sufficient plausibility to this report. He cheats the American people in other ways, why would Somerby not believe he would cheat on his taxes. Trump himself has said that people who pay more than they have to in taxes are chumps. He is proud of evading taxes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the finest hair-splitting I've seen Somerby do in his many years here. Does Somerby really think that the NY Times is making this stuff up?
      Yeah, I had the same question. Whatever data they have on Trump's return is presumably sufficient to discern the details of what he's been up to.

      Delete
  4. But the question remains: are the losses real?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He already has bragged about not paying taxes. What's everyone so surprised about?

      Delete
    2. No, they are paper losses because he gets loans he doesn't pay back. Also, he inflates his expenses in illegal ways. He also plays games with appraisals of property (according to Mary Trump). He is a tax cheat who is committing fraud.

      Delete
    3. Exactly. If you hadn't already figured out Trump is a deadbeat, this isn't gonna change your mind.

      Delete
    4. Unknown,
      That was dismissed as "locker room" talk.

      Delete
    5. What do you mean, "are the losses real?" They're real if the IRS accepts them. I agree he inflates his deductible expenses in ways that are bizarre, but he's following the advice of lawyers and tax consultants who make their living by being sure their clients obey the law. If they, and he, misunderstand the law it's on the IRS to tell them so. I paid more taxes in 2017 and 2018 that the NYT says Trump did, but I took all the deductions the law allows me to take. The law allows him to take a lot of deductions that don't apply to me.

      Delete
    6. @procopius
      So there should be no problem releasing his returns.

      Delete
    7. "lawyers and tax consultants who make their living by being sure their clients obey the law"

      hee hee hee hee

      Delete
    8. Ronald Reagan would call Trump a "welfare queen", if Trump were a black woman.

      Delete
    9. Procopius,
      Legally maybe. But from a political standpoint, Trump voters, who hate the rigged economy, and aren't at all just a bunch of mouth-breathing bigots (per the corporate-owned Right-wing mainstream media AKA the media), are going to be so pissed about this, both of them might stay at home and not vote for Trump's re-election.

      Delete
  5. "In that passage, the reporters clearly say that they didn't obtain the commander-in-chief's "personal returns for 2018 or 2019."

    Our question: Did they obtain his "personal returns" for any other year? "

    According to The Hill (and the NY Times) he didn't pay taxes for 10 out of the past 15 years and not during the first two years of his term.

    Somerby asks about 2018 and 2019. Those years are being audited, according to Trump. Perhaps they were not released to the NY Times for that reason -- the data may not be finalized.

    ReplyDelete
  6. See: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/518612-five-takeaways-from-nyt-trump-taxes-bombshell

    Somerby doesn't bother summarizing this because he doesn't want to embarrass Trump right before the election.

    ReplyDelete
  7. True. The story is really a "when did you stop beating your wife" question.

    A successful businessman would turn a profit and owe income taxes. A failing businessman would not owe income taxes. So in order to extricate himself from this he either admits that he is lying about being a successful businessman or he is unfairly not paying income tax.

    It is sort of a turn on Romney's claim that 50% don't pay taxes - when he is only talkin about income taxes and not fica or social security.

    I would point you to John Mulaney's "Horse loose in a hospital" and point out that you may be accurate, but that we are a level off of accuracy - like sarcasm is a level off of truthiness.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow
    Bob
    You no longer even attempt to be serious.
    Those “loses” are phony.
    Golf courses can’t have loses in the hundreds of millions of dollars
    You can Not carry loses on real property And buildings on the property don’t generate that much loss.
    Bob after 20 years of reading you I have to admit that it is you who is now using sophistry and engaging in logical fallacies.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We decided to let rich pricks rule and wreck our world...no use griping about it now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Griping is every soldier's right.

      Delete
  10. From Democratic Underground:

    "Source: ABC News

    AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas sheriff has been indicted on charges of destroying or concealing video in an investigation into the death in custody of a Black man, Javier Ambler, that was filmed by the police reality TV series “Live PD," prosecutors said Monday.

    Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody was booked Monday into his jail on a $10,000 bond and released a short time later. The third-degree felony charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

    The indictment comes as prosecutors in Austin separately investigate the use of force in Ambler’s death in March 2019, when the 40-year-old former postal worker was pulled over for allegedly failing to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. The traffic stop was filmed for the real-time police show “Live PD," which was canceled by the A&E Network in June."

    I wonder if Somerby will complain that this didn't appear in the NY Times?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Trump has questions too:

    "Trump himself is simultaneously complaining that the NYT received the documentation illegally and that the stories are "Fake news." His dimwitted followers do not understand, will never understand, that the documents can't be both fake and illegally obtained. "

    From Cannonfire, Joseph Cannon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear dembot, please tell your dembot comrade Joseph Cannon that the documents certainly are illegally obtained, and the stories certainly are fake news. No contradiction, my dear.

      Delete
    2. No collusion has been found between Trump and smart business practices.

      Delete
    3. The Mueller report didn't just say there was no collusion. It said there was no instances where Trump and successful business practices were even aware of each other.

      Delete
    4. I wish I had a nickel for every time David in Cal ejaculated his admiration for what a wildly successful businessman Donald J Chickenshit is.

      Delete
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