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Friday, June 16, 2017

Financial Disclosures/Tax Returns for President Trump

The President released his yearly financial disclosure form a short while ago.  It is a 99 page list of assets, income, liabilities and partnership-type entities for Mr. Trump and his family.  In this case the family is just Melania and Baron; adult children are not included.

After a year of screaming and gnashing of teeth from the left about Trump's tax returns, I figured that I would look carefully at what had been released.  From this form, one can tell every investment that the President has.  You can see every loan he has taken.  You can see the location of each of his projects (none are in Russia).  It tells you loads of information about the President's finances.

It started me thinking.  Was there something that might be in the tax returns that could not be gleaned from the financial disclosure form?  The answer is that on the disclosure form, the value of assets are put into categories.  For example, a building might be listed as worth 5 to 25 million dollars.  There might be more exact numbers on the tax returns, but that would not tell you anything material.  In fact, much of the information on the disclosure forms would not be shown on the tax return.  From the financial disclosure form, you cannot tell who the other investors are in each of the Trump properties, but that information would not be on the tax return either.  There really is nothing much that would be on the tax return that isn't on the financial disclosure with one exception.  The tax return would tell you what deductions Trump had taken.  For example, we would get to see how much the President and his wife had donated to charity for the relevant year, something that is not addressed on the financial disclosure form.  That's about it, however.

For anyone who really is curious about the Trump tax returns or who thinks it is critical that those returns be released, I suggest you look through the financial disclosure form by clicking on the link in the first sentence above.  If you look at the issue fairly, you will see that it is actually a non-issue.

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