Media Mention

Fleischer: Donald Trump business taxes threaten the rule of law for all

October 13, 2020

Note: this piece was originally published in The Hill, and was written by Checks & Balances member Miranda Perry Fleischer.

It is tempting for critics of Donald Trump to react to the New York Times bombshell article by accusing Trump of tax evasion, which is a crime. And it’s equally tempting for his defenders to insist that all he did was use legal avoidance techniques, available to anyone. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. But the president’s sheer volume of legally dubious tax positions poses an insidious threat to the rule of law.

The Times was careful to not accuse Trump of tax evasion. Proving criminal tax fraud, the kind that took down Al Capone, is extremely difficult. But respect for the rule of law is more than simply avoiding criminal behavior. It means abiding by our societal responsibilities without trying to game the system.

The Times documents numerous questionable positions, ranging from (relatively) small amounts to millions of dollars. Some of these are easy to follow and almost laughable, such as the $70,000 for hairstyling during Trump’s “Apprentice” years. The Internal Revenue Service and courts have repeatedly stated that personal grooming expenses are not deductible, even when required by an employer. When a Marine pays a barber for a haircut to comply with military rules, he cannot deduct it.


Continue reading at The Hill.