Trump’s tax returns put to bed wildest speculation, spur usual fights

Trump’s tax returns put to bed wildest speculation, spur usual fights

Perhaps the worst part of the Trump presidency was his insistence on flouting the democratic norms that previous holders of the nation’s highest elected office typically followed. Norms are the customs that American officials voluntarily respect — such as accepting election results, acting graciously toward political opponents — because it bolsters our democratic system.

Long before he arguably incited the January 6 Capitol riot, Trump gave signals that he would not follow many traditions. During the 2016 presidential campaign, for instance, candidate Trump refused to release his tax returns even though such releases were commonplace by presidential candidates since the 1960s.

That practice showed transparency, but the Trump Show always has been about smoke and mirrors. Late last year, the federal courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – gave the go ahead for House Democrats to release five years of Trump tax returns into the public record. No one’s particularly surprised by the revelations.

They suggest that Trump exaggerated his business prowess and apparently broke his campaign pledge to donate his salary — at least in 2020 when he made not charitable donations whatsoever, The New York Times reported.

CNBC added the tax returns “show the former president who ran for office in part on his business acumen routinely declared large losses and paid little or no taxes in multiple years” and “suggest that many of Trump’s businesses saw significant losses” during the disclosed years.

The politics related to the Trump returns remain heated, of course. Angry at their release, congressional Republicans — who will take over the House once they choose a speaker — have vowed to investigate the tax returns of Democratic officials. Many Democrats vastly overstated what the tax returns might reveal, even to the point of farce.

At this point, there’s probably no sentient American who hasn’t formed an opinion of Trump as he launches a 2024 presidential bid. The tax reveal won’t change anyone’s mind, but the main issue was the process. Had Trump voluntarily released his taxes as other presidents have done, he would have taken his lumps — but followed a long and honorable tradition that promotes democracy and trust.