This tax issue is a MAJOR campaign problem and could very well sound the death rattle of Trump’s presidential chances, even though Trump most likely acted within the current tax law that allows income offsets for business loses.
Yes, Trump can explain loss offsets on his income, but that message requires acknowledgement that he has experienced significant business failure over time. Not exactly the picture of overwhelming business success that has provided a major underpinning of his campaign.
Whether the headline is true or not, most people won’t read beyond the headline that “Trump Paid No Income Taxes For 18 Years”. The fact that wealth is NOT taxed, only income is taxed, will be lost on most people and the residual story that a billionaire paid no income tax will likely be the focus. It will certainly be the focus of media and Democrats 24/7.
While it’s true that any intelligent person takes advantage of the prevailing tax law allowing for a reduction in income taxes owed, it’s hard to imagine that voters will look favorably upon Trump not paying income taxes - regardless of the justification. Trump hasn’t “gamed” the tax system. He’s taken what the tax law allows him to take. Who among us but a fool hasn’t done the same?
By any objective measure, Trump has had a horrific week. Allowing Clinton to get under his skin during the debate and then spending 3 days talking about/explaining his petty statements about a beauty contestant from twenty years ago was bad enough. Now the income tax story has blown up in his lap.
It is likely Trump and his team decided early on to not release his tax returns because they knew it would be impossible to explain to a public that feels they are getting screwed by a system that is rigged.
It’s too bad, but it appears to me that defeating Hillary is most likely a bridge too far for Trump. His thin-skinned pettiness, thoughtless comments, and now his taxes have and are conspiring to offset his position on the issues most of us find important.