A few questions for Donald Trump at Tuesday’s presidential debate.
Mr. Trump, a barista at Starbucks who earns $20,000 a year pays $760 in federal income taxes. Why did you pay $10 a year less in 2016 and 2017?
Mr. Trump, the average American paid about $12,200 in federal income taxes in 2017, but you paid nothing at all in 10 of the past 15 years. How did you pull that off?
Mr. Trump, Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, paid $3.7 million in federal income taxes in 2017 and $1.5 million in 2018 — about a third of their adjusted gross income. Who’s the wealthier man standing on this stage tonight?
While we’re talking about the Bidens, Mr. Trump, Joe and Jill gave $1,275,000 to charity in those two years. How’s your charitable giving going?
Mr. Trump, on presidential financial disclosures forms — what you told the voters — you claimed to have earned at least $434.9 million in 2018. But in your tax filings — what you told the IRS — you reported a $47.4 million loss in 2018. The New York Times blew your cover on Sunday. Were you lying to the country or lying to the IRS?
Mr. Trump, the Times reported that your entire facade of brilliant business acumen and wealth is about to come crashing down. You personally are on the hook to pay back $421 million in loans in the next four years, and the IRS is looking at clawing back $72.9 million in tax refunds, plus interest. Should we trust that a president in such desperate financial straits, and of such low character, will put our nation’s interests above his own?
Speaking of which, Mr. Trump, how much worse shape would your business empire be in today — ballpark figure — if you were not already monetizing the presidency? Your hotels and golf courses, as the Times revealed, have become “bazaars for collecting money directly from lobbyists, foreign officials and others seeking face time, access or favor.”
Revenues from initiation fees at your Mar-a-Lago club have skyrocketed while you have been president, allowing you to take $26 million out of the business from 2015 through 2018, three times what you paid yourself in prior years. Companies and groups eager to win your favor — like Bank of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Walgreens — have spent tens of millions of dollars to hold events and rent space at your properties.
On foreign conflicts of interest
Mr. Trump, the Times revealed that your financial bottom line depends heavily — even more than previously reported — on foreign investors and governments. Should we be worried, sir?
When, for example, Turkish business interests directly lobby you for more American trade, as they have, should we be concerned that the chief lobbyist previously helped you cut a deal to build two Trump towers in Istanbul that have earned you at least $13 million?
Mr. Trump, is it fair to question the patriotism of a president who pays more in taxes to several foreign nations, including the Philippines, India and Panama, than to the United States of America? You’re paying more into their armed forces than ours.
Mr. Trump, to whom else do you owe tens of millions of dollars? Shouldn’t the American people be fully informed of all your conflicts of interest before you make another call to another foreign leader?
On Ivanka’s big payday
Mr. Trump, why are you paying your daughter Ivanka twice for the same job?
The Times discovered that the Trump Organization paid Ivanka $747,622 for “consulting” work on hotel deals though she already was an employee of the company. A cynic, sir, might say you did this to reduce your taxable income and transfer assets to your daughter without incurring a gift tax.
Mr. Trump, on another matter. Seventy thousand dollars to style your hair?
Mr. Trump. Ninety-five thousand dollars to style Ivanka’s hair?
Mr. Trump, you say the Times investigation is “totally fake news.” But you have not cited a single factual inaccuracy. Please do so now. If you can.
Mr. Trump, will you agree to release your tax returns tomorrow morning so the American people can judge for themselves who’s putting out “totally fake news?”
On working at Starbucks
Mr. Trump, help us understand. You consistently lose tens of millions of dollars more than you take in. You lose so much — and claim so many dubious expenses — that you hardly pay income taxes. Are you a) A pitifully inept businessman; b) A tax dodger; c) A con man; or d) All of the above?
Mr. Trump, once you’re out of office, your creditors and the IRS could close in fast. Do you fear losing it all?
Or might you be OK with working at Starbucks, sir, except for the higher taxes?
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