The New York Times’ claim that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 is wrong, based on a flawed understanding of how taxes are paid.
The figures below, drawn from the New York Times’ own analysis of Trump’s tax-return data for 2017, show that Trump paid $7,435,857 in taxes in 2017.
The Times says the tax return data show that Trump’s earnings were negative for the year, so he owed nothing in regular income taxes.
But he was subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), a parallel tax system aimed at making sure wealthy people cannot use deductions to eliminate their tax liability altogether. … Trump was left with an AMT bill of $7,435,857, according to the Times.
There was no way for Trump to avoid this tax liability. He had to pay it down using his assets. And he did.
What confused the Times is Trump did not pay the liability with a check. He used a credit issued to him earlier by the government, a credit that can only be used to pay taxes.
That’s a lot less rare than it seems. In fact, it’s how most people pay their taxes.
For most people, tax bills get paid with credits they have already accumulated with the government through mandatory deductions from their paychecks. When they overpay their taxes through withholding, they can apply for a refund for the overpayment. That can be a bank deposit from the government or it can be rolled forward as a credit to apply to future taxes. …
To argue that this does not count as paying millions of dollars in taxes is equivalent to arguing that every single one of us who does not have to cut a check on tax day, because we built up a credit through withholding, is not paying our taxes.
The Times, in its eagerness to create a scandal around Trump’s tax records, has simply gotten the most well-known part of its story wrong.
“A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes” — Mark Twain? Jonathan Swift? Anonymous?
It’s bit tough for Trump that the world’s leading newspaper spread a big lie designed to hurt him politically — rebroadcast by every news service in the Western world — just before an election.
What do you suppose the odds of hearing this correction on your mainstream “news” service are? Given that they haven’t exactly gone out of their way to inform you the whole “Trump is a Russian agent” message they spread for two years is a lie, made up by Hillary Clinton, I think we all know the answer.
via Tip of the Spear