Excerpted from "Digital Diary'' column in GoLocal24
On Donald Trump’s tax avoidance and business failures:
Donald Trump has often been a terrible businessman except later in his career, when he turned himself into a TV star. Far from being a “genius,’’ as described by Rudy Giuliani, who is displaying as many signs of serious mental illness as is Mr. Trump, much of the latter’s real-estate and casino career has been one disaster after another. What launched him was his father’s connections and money and what kept him going was an impressive amorality and narcissistic drive.
The nearly $1 billion losshe reported on his tax forms (but hid from the public) in the early ‘90s showed him as a grossly incompetent entrepreneur and executive. Given his record of pathological lying, it could be that the lossesthen were even worse. And since he has hidden his tax returns, one suspects his later losses could be huge, too.
But his accountants and tax lawyers (not Mr. Trump) had the ‘’genius’’ to know how to very aggressively game the tax code to near its breaking point to avoid paying federal or state income taxes even as his lenders put him on a monthly “budget” of $450,000 to maintain his show-off lifestyle.
For many years, lobbyists have gotten Congress (mostly controlled by Republicans in the past couple of decades), and presidents of both parties have gone along, to give astounding tax breaks to such favored groups (and big campaign contributors) as real-estate developers. These breaks let them protect their personal assets even if their projects collapse and their creditors are stiffed.
All this is yet another display of how America’s profoundly corrupt tax code favors money manipulation over honestly earning money, the latter by, for example, making, growing and inventing things and providing useful services. Unearned income trumps (so to speak) earned income.
The tax breaks granted to real-estate developers encourage them to build big projects, and then let the corrupt ones like Donald Trump walk away from their creditors and others scot-free if the projects don’t work. This helps explain in part why there are so many windswept abandoned shopping malls.
-- Robert Whitcomb