Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Minor Note on Trump's Tax Returns

One of the greatest things about the internet is all sorts of people can write about a topic they don't know anything about and publish it.   This is exactly what's happening withTrump's tax returns.  All sorts of yahoos are making all sorts of guesses about what lurks beneath the surface.

Most of what you're reading bullshit.  Here's why: we've only seen 3 pages from tax returns that contain a single piece of tax information: a $916 billion dollar loss.  Until we have all of his federal returns that explain not only every penny of that loss (pre-1995) and its potential application (post-1995) we know nothing.  

Here's where this tax lawyer would start his analysis if I had the information: what are the components of his massive 1995 loss?  Losses are tax gold because they offset income.  And because they're so wonderful from a planning perspective, a loss as large as $915 billion would immediately attract IRS attention.  I'm assuming that, due to the loss's magnitude, the IRS has already audited this figure, probably multiple times.  But I'd at least like to know it's general components and how it was calculated.  I'm assuming (there's a dangerous word in the legal businsss) that depreciation accounts for most of it.  This is real estate tax 101 and wouldn't surprise anyone in the tax business.  

Here's the second thing I'd want to know: was this applied as a net operating loss (NOL under section 172 of the code?  I'm assuming (again, dangerous word) that he applied it against future income, which is allowed under the code.  But, again, this is 100% conjecture and will be until we see the post-1995 returns.

Here's what I can say were certainty: Trump had a really shitty year according to his 1995 tax returns. I mean really shitty.  In my opinion, 

1.) The IRS has probably audited the loss at least once and probably multiple times.  It's probably legit.

2.) The size of the loss invalidates his claims to superior business acumen.  Instead, it shows that he really doesn't know what he's doing. 

And this is before we note that Trump is a 3-year old with no impulse control and clear white power mentality.  But that's for another day.