Editor, The Transcript:
I was more than a little flummoxed when I watched the portion of President Trump’s recent rally in Florida where he discussed the criminal prosecution of his company and its CFO. Mr. Trump said, “You didn’t pay tax on the car or a company apartment. You used an apartment because you need an apartment because you have to travel too far where your house is. You didn’t pay tax. Or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know. Do you have to? Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?”
This is remarkable especially since Mr. Trump has repeatedly boasted about his knowledge of the tax code, including his remarks in 2015 where he said, “Look, nobody knows the tax code better than I do. Okay? I know it better. I’m the king of the tax code.” A couple months later he said, “I know more about taxes than any human being that God ever created.”
No matter what one might think about Mr. Trump, his sudden ignorance about taxes – especially basic things like this that are common knowledge — is just plain hogwash.
Everyone knows that getting paid “under the table” isn’t legal. Certainly, Mr. Trump’s CFO and his wife need vehicles to drive, an apartment to live in, and I’m sure the prep school Mr. Weisselberg’s two grandkids go to must be fantastic if the tuition ran $360,000.
By the same token, I have perfectly worthwhile and reasonable expenses such as a mortgage payment, utilities, food, home improvements, and personal vehicles. But I can assure you that if I went to my employer and asked them to cover my expenses as a tax-free perk and just take it off my salary, I’d be laughed out of the office, if not referred to the EAP for a psych evaluation.
I have a company vehicle that I need to do my job, but I am permitted to use it for business purposes only. To the extent that company vehicles are used for a regular commute between home and office, that is actually considered personal use, the value of which must be calculated and treated as taxable income.
My employer also pays for a term life insurance policy for its employees as a benefit. All I have to do is look at my pay stub to see that the cost of the policy is treated as income and I am most certainly taxed on it.
Even more disappointing is the crass sense of entitlement that I see in Mr. Trump’s comments now that he’s been caught cheating (or at least his company and its CFO, so far.) By his logic, nobody need pay any income tax at all. Every possible expense an employee could have, from rent to food to entertainment, could simply be covered as a tax-free perk and deducted from what would otherwise be their pay.
What is most disappointing of all is that there are millions of otherwise good and decent people who would never put up with this kind of nonsense for a minute, but because it’s coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth, they eat it right up and get even more whipped up into a frenzy about an imaginary grand conspiracy against Mr. Trump, with their ire directed at the other half-plus of the country — good and decent people like me, who, for our own legitimate and valid reasons, simply don’t support Mr. Trump.