standing letters

Phil Gingerella’s April 18 letter in The Sun, “Trump’s tax returns none of Dems’ business” makes an excellent point that I agree with 100%: Democrats indeed have no right to see anyone’s taxes other than their own, and if Phil’s right, asserting that “Democrats are too stupid to understand that there’s a difference between gross and net income ...,” what difference would it make anyway?

The real issue is that Congress, with legitimate reason, must be able to see anyone’s taxes (though far be it from me to assert someone is too stupid to see this), and in fact, Congress would be neglecting its responsibility if they didn’t scrutinize Trump’s taxes given: 1. Congress’ oversight responsibility (2016-18 Republican Congressional oversight abdication notwithstanding) combined with 2. The New York Attorney General suing the Trump Foundation, asserting: “The foundation was run to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests and his presidential campaign,” hardly the stuff foundations are made of.

Of course, there’s never been a need for any constitutional requirement for any candidate to release her/ his tax returns, as candidates did it willingly. But ... then came Trump.

“Under audit” has no bearing whatsoever in Congressional tax analysis, but Mr. Gingerella, “there is no doubt that he is telling the truth”? Is this before, during or after the 8,158 lies Trump told over his first two years in office? That’s less than 12 lies a day, but still.

“It’s a safe bet that a billionaire’s taxes are audited regularly by the IRS” ... is this before, during or after the gutting of the IRS, with the agency presently consisting of 9,510 auditors(per Pro-Publica), which is roughly equivalentto the 1953 auditing staff when the not-nearly-as-complex economy was a seventh of its current size? This hollowing out now causesthe government an estimated

$18 billion in lost revenue annually. Which by the way, was before Mr. Trump’s “leave no billionaire behind” December 2017 tax cut, which lowered the top income rate from 39.6% to 37%, with both less than half the 83% optimal tax rate on the super wealthy as citedin the recent Pikkety/Saez/Santcheva 2015 analysis.

The debate continues with New York’s 14th District U.S. representative, known internationally as AOC, citing 70% as an optimal tax rate on the rich on national TV (“60 Minutes” in January), while Vox acknowledged at the time that some research shows this figure is too low.

Money buys influence, and does any of the analysis consider the wealthy buying political influence that could unethically change the laws, lowering their tax burden? Maybe in the developing world, but in Trump’s USA? While tax analysis and conclusions vary, there’s one universal tax truth: No one wants to pay them with the wealthy sitting in the best position to avoid paying their fair share, which is why Congressional oversight is so important.

Jay Lustgarten

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