Editorials

Donald Trump’s taxes are a big deal

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized Republican Donald Trump on taxes during a rally Monday in Toledo, Ohio.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized Republican Donald Trump on taxes during a rally Monday in Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press

Between now and Election Day, there will be plenty of leaks attacking Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The task for voters is to sift through them and give them the weight they deserve.

Consider the two in recent days: Clinton’s comments about millennials as “children of the Great Recession” living in their parents’ basements, and Trump’s 1995 tax returns, in which he claimed a $916 million loss that could have been enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades.

There’s no comparison.

Released through an email hack, Clinton’s speech at a February fundraiser might make it more difficult for her to sway some young voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders. But Sanders, himself, declared that what Clinton said was basically true.

On the other hand, the issue of Trump’s taxes goes to the core of his candidacy. He’s promoting himself as a savvy businessman who can boost America’s economy, but how does that square with claiming to have lost nearly $1 billion in a single year?

Mailed anonymously to The New York Times, Trump’s tax returns also go to the heart of the overarching issue of economic fairness. He apparently did nothing illegal, and Trump bragged Monday that he “brilliantly” used the tax code.

But voters need to ask: How is it proper for someone who wants to be president to repeatedly skirt federal taxes that pay for defending the nation, protecting the environment, helping students go to college and everything else?

In battleground state of Ohio on Monday, Clinton blasted Trump for taking advantage of a tax system rigged in favor of the rich. She said while millions of American families were paying their “fair share,” Trump was “contributing nothing to our nation” while also seeking government subsidies for his companies. And she pointed out that Trump proposes even more tax cuts for himself and other wealthy Americans.

In Colorado, Trump argued that because he understands the “unfair” tax system, he’s the one to fix it.

That’s a really hard sell – made even tougher because Trump won’t release his tax returns, as done by Clinton (she and Bill paid $3.24 million in federal taxes last year) and every other major presidential candidate for decades. Until he does, he should stop criticizing Clinton for lack of transparency and cease claiming he’s the champion of American workers – or he should acknowledge the fundamental hypocrisy of his candidacy.

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