Is Donald Trump refusing to release his personal tax returns because he’s been involved in some questionable personal, business and charitable tax practices? If recent information uncovered by The Washington Post proves to be correct, it is possible that the Republican presidential candidate could be deliberately hiding some shady behavior with regard to his personal finances, his taxes and his charitable organization, the Trump Foundation.
According to the report, Donald Trump’s alleged tax trouble can be traced to his handling of payments owed to Trump or his businesses, but were instead paid to his charity, which is a tax-exempt organization. According to The Washington Post, roughly $2.3 million dollars in payments that should have been made to Donald Trump or his businesses (not tax-exempt) were paid to his tax-exempt foundation instead. Also, according to the report, the businesses that made the payments to Donald Trump’s tax-exempt Trump Foundation were “instructed” to do so.
A sizable portion of that $2.3 million was a reported $400,000 payment from the Comedy Central network that was owed to Donald Trump as a personal appearance fee. That payment of nearly a half a million dollars was made to the Trump Foundation rather than to Trump or one of his businesses. According to the Donald Trump campaign, income taxes were paid on that amount.
However, according to The Post, the Trump team won’t comment on what taxes may have been paid on other payments that were diverted to the Trump Foundation.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Donald Trump and his foundation have to do with a pretty big “why?” Why in the world are people donating to Trump’s tax-exempt charity when, according to The Washington Post,“Trump himself gave his last recorded donation in 2008?”
The second biggest question posed by the investigative report was whether or not Donald Trump paid income taxes on payments when they were paid to his tax-exempt Trump Foundation.
Initially, one of Donald Trump’s senior advisers denied that Trump had ever instructed that fees owed to him for professional engagements/business reason had ever been sent to the Trump Foundation.
“He’s never directed fees to the foundation. He’s waived fees from time to time. He’s never directed it to a specific charity.”
When presented with the evidence pertaining to the $400,000 Comedy Central payment, Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn changed up his story a little, admitting to that situation, but declining to answer questions about any other instances of diverted payments.
“To my knowledge, Mr. Trump has followed all applicable rules and regulations The rest is pure speculation and worthless conjecture on your part.”
The news that Donald Trump may have a documented history of directing payments to his mysterious tax-exempt foundation is particularly troubling when you consider that previous reports have accused Trump of using Trump Foundation funds for personal use, namely using charity money to help himself (otherwise known as “self-dealing”).
It has been alleged in the past the Trump used foundation money to pay legal fees and even to purchase expensive art (namely two portraits of Trump himself).
There are many financial laws and regulations in the United States created to regulate how charities disperse their funds; many of those laws deal specifically with preventing the people who own/operate the charities from using the charity’s money for their own personal gain. Charity leaders who violate these laws can be subject to a multitude of potential penalties, up to and including criminal charges, depending on the nature of the violations and the evidence against the alleged perpetrator.
According to Marc Owens, a former IRS employee, if true, the allegations levied against Donald Trump by The Washington Post with regard to the Trump Foundation’s fiances are “bizarre.”
“This is so bizarre, this laundry list of issues. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years in the IRS, and 40 years total.”
Ironically (or perhaps not so much), the latest news regarding Donald Trump and his Trump Foundation comes just hours before the first, highly-anticipated presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. That event, which is now expected to manage viewership on par with a Super Bowl, is scheduled to take place on September 26 at 9:00 p.m. EST.
As far as Donald Trump and his campaign, they deny any wrongdoing at all, let alone wrongdoing on the part of their candidate.
“There’s been no intent, in any way, to go against any applicable rules, laws, and regulations.”
What do you think? Is it time for Donald Trump to make some of his personal and charitable tax information public in order to reassure his potential voters (and everyone else) that everything is on the up and up?
[Featured Image by Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock]