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Trump had to pay millions due to tax law he aims to abolish, leaked return shows

A section of the presidents 2005 tax return revealed that about 85% of what he paid the IRS was incurred due to alternative minimum tax

Donald Trumps leaked tax return reveals that the businessman had to pay tens of millions of dollars in a single year because of a tax rule that he has specifically promised to abolish as president.

A two-page section of Trumps tax return for 2005, which was published by MSNBC late on Tuesday, revealed that the president paid $38m in federal taxes on more than $150m in income in 2005.

But the documents also showed that about 82% of the total paid to the Internal Revenue Service that year by Trump and his wife, Melania, was incurred due to a tax that Trump has said should be abolished.

The alternative minimum tax (AMT), which was introduced to ensure the mega wealthy pay a fairer share of tax, comprised $31m of Trumps tax bill compared to $5.3m in regular federal income tax. In the run-up to Novembers election, Trump pledged to eliminate the AMT altogether, meaning the president campaigned for a change in the tax law that would have benefited him.

The publication of the paperwork prompted immediate condemnation from the White House, which accused MSNBCs Rachel Maddow of breaking the law and preemptively released figures from the same year.

You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago, a Trump administration official said in a statement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/14/donald-trump-tax-return-leaked-alternative-minimum


Trump on track to spend exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars on travels

By one estimate the president has already rung up as much in travel costs as the Obama and Biden families did in eight years all at the expense of taxpayers

Nothing used to rile devoted Barack Obama critics like the presidents winter Hawaiian vacation. A watchdog group once calculated that the Aloha state trips cost taxpayers $3.5m a pop in airfare, security arrangements, communications and medical staff.

Among the harshest critics of Obamas travel was Donald Trump, then a private citizen. President Obamas vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars—-Unbelievable! Trump tweeted in 2012. Two years later, Trump tweeted that Obamas motto was: If I dont go on taxpayer funded vacations & constantly fundraise then the terrorists win.

The joke, it turns out, is on Trump. Now he is the president and it appears that he is on track to spend many more millions of taxpayer dollars on trips that might be construed as vacations for him and his family than Obama ever dreamed of. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward… Mar-a-Lago?

By one sketchy estimate, Trump and his family, in their security and travel demands, have already rung up as much in accounts payable by taxpayers as the Obama and Biden families did in eight years, a figure elsewhere calculated, by the Washington DC-based Judicial Watch, as topping $97m.

How is it possible? The complicated receipt involves weekend trips by Trump to Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Florida; travel by his children and their government security details on Trump family business; and costs associated with protecting Trumps Manhattan home, the high-rise Trump Tower building, where Trumps wife and youngest child live but where the real estate mogul himself has not set foot since becoming president.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/04/donald-trump-travel-costs-mar-a-lago-taxpayers


Draft of first Trump budget would cut legal aid for millions of poor Americans

Draft proposes elimination of Legal Services Corporation, which provides free legal assistance to low-income people, victims of domestic violence and others

Cuts in Donald Trumps first draft budget to funding for legal aid for millions of Americans could strip much-needed protections from victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, families facing foreclosure and veterans in need, justice equality advocates warned Tuesday.

A Trump draft budget circulated over the weekend called for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which has a $375m annual budget and provides free legal assistance to low-income people and others in need of help, with cases involving disability benefits, disaster relief, elder abuse, fair pay, wheelchair access, low-income tax credits, unlawful eviction, child support, consumer scams, school lunch, predatory lending and much more.

The legal aid program, which represents a miniscule portion of the governments projected $4tn budget, is one of many small but mighty programs flagged for elimination in Trumps draft budget. Others include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Americorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Critics of the cuts point out that they wont budge the deficit but would erode quality of life and threaten the most vulnerable.

The possible legal aid cuts would come at a time when potentially softer enforcement by the Trump administration of laws to punish domestic violence, protect Americans with disabilities and combat discriminatory housing practices could create a spike in demand, said Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, a fellow at the Center for American Progress who has written on the issue.

Weve already gotten an indication that theyre probably going to cut grants for domestic violence cases, VAWA-related grants, and thats one of the biggest categories that legal aid grantees use, Buckwalter-Poza said, referring to the Violence Against Women Act. This is a huge blow to women in particular, and thats devastating.

And whats so disturbing about the potential for the administration to eliminate LSC altogether is that at the same time, you have a Department of Justice thats probably not going to enforce the types of legislation on the governments side that supplements private action, like the Fair Housing Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act. And at the same time that theyre going to stop doing that, people are going to have fewer options for seeking out free legal assistance.

Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association, the lawyers organization, said that the Legal Services Corporation assured access to justice for all, the very idea that propelled our nation to independence.

Our nations core values are reflected in the LSCs work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others wont, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others, Klein said in a statement. Thirty cost-benefit analyses all show that legal aid returns far more benefits than costs to communities across America.

The legal services corporation was created by a 1974 law, signed by Richard Nixon, acknowledging a need to provide equal access to the system of justice in our nation. The corporation helped an estimated 1.8m people in 2013, 70% of them women living near or below the poverty line. But studies indicate that legal aid offices turn away about 50% of clients in need owing to a lack of resources.

Trumps proposed budget is not all or even mostly cuts. It emerged on Tuesday that the president had directed the Department of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 more customs and immigration agents. Trump has vowed to build a border wall costing billions and to ramp up military spending.

Trumps recently confirmed budget director, Mick Mulvaney, twice co-sponsored legislation as a member of Congress from South Carolina to abolish the Legal Services Corporation. Mulvaney told a home-state newspaper this week that he was about to become the most hated man in Washington.

Republicans going back to Ronald Reagan have opposed funding for the Legal Services Corporation and related funding, arguing in part that it was not the governments responsibility to cover legal costs. As a 1973 federal racial discrimination lawsuit against Donald Trump and his real estate company illustrated, however, legal proceedings can be crucial to protecting American freedoms and rights against unsavory actors.

These are obviously critical, livelihood-related, day-to-day issues for people who certainly cant afford a lawyer on their own, Buckwalter-Poza said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/21/trump-draft-budget-legal-aid-low-income


Trump presents vision for creating 25m jobs in economic policy speech

The Republican presidential nominee projected audaciously that millions of new jobs would be created broadly within a two-term Trump presidency

Donald Trump attempted to combat widespread criticism of his sketchy economic policies by setting out what he presented as a new vision for the country that he audaciously claimed would create 25m new jobs in a decade and put the American worker first.

Addressing one of the countrys most august economic debating societies, the Economic Club of New York, the Republican presidential nominee sought to dispel the criticism that has dogged his campaign that his mathematics do not add up in balancing tax cuts and new spending. Sticking closely to a pre-prepared script despite an initial malfunctioning of his teleprompter – he delivered a speech that was billed in advance by his senior advisers as the culmination of his thinking on how to get America back to work.

American cars will travel the roads, he said, American planes will soar the skies, American ships will patrol the seas, American steel will send new skyscrapers into the clouds, American hands will rebuild this nation, and American energy harvested from American sources will power this nation.

Despite the unapologetically populist tone, Trump tried to puncture criticisms that his plan lacked substance by putting figures to his ambitions. He projected 25m new jobs would be created broadly within the timeframe of a two-term Trump presidency, as a result of an average annual growth rate that would rise from current projections of about 2% to 3.5% through his tax-cutting and trade policies.

The audaciousness of that boast is underlined by comparison with previous presidents. It would bring American job creation levels back to the golden days enjoyed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s when the dotcom boom and an expanding global economy saw 21m jobs created under his watch.

By contrast, Barack Obamas two terms in the White House have seen almost 10m jobs created within a sluggish recovery from the 2008 collapse.

Even more audaciously, Trump said he could achieve such a boon to employment while keeping the national budget deficit neutral. If we achieve 4% growth it will reduce the deficit, he said.

Buoyed by new polls showing him in effect tied nationally with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the real estate billionaire said he could pull off such a turnaround in the US economy through a combination of traditional conservative tax cutting and by tearing up trade deals and bringing jobs back to America from Mexico and China. His words were given added poignancy, though he did not make overt reference to the fact, by the setting of his speech in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue, a legendary hotel bought by a Chinese insurance company in 2014.

On taxes, Trump proposed to simplify the tax code into three brackets down from seven, and to take poor earners out of tax altogether with individuals with an income under $25,000 (19,000) and married couples under $50,000 paying no tax.

However, with his tax cuts applying to all earners, no matter how wealthy, they would have a regressive effect. The Tax Policy Center has calculated the richest 0.1% would on average see tax cuts under his plan of $1.3m in 2017 compared with just $5,100 for everybody else.

Trump tried to counter that criticism that he was putting forward policies that would benefit the 1% by modelling how average families would fare under his vision. A married couple earning $5m a year with two children and $12,000 in child care expenses would only get a 3% reduction in their tax bill, he said, compared with a 35% reduction for a similar couple earning $50,000 and with $8,000 in child care.

People earning $5m will receive virtually no change in their tax bill at all, he said.

But in other parts of his address, he underlined reforms that would be to the advantage of wealthy Americans, including his proposed abolition of the estate tax that is only paid on inheritances valued at over $5m. He also repeated his promise to slash the business tax rate from 35% to 15%, earning a robust cheer from the many corporate leaders eating lunch on the ballroom floor in front of him.

Trumps economic manifesto has been widely criticized by analysts. This week the global firm Oxford Economics predicted that the US economy could shrink by $1tn by the end of a single term Trump presidency as a result of his proposed tax cuts, barriers to trade and mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

That would be the equivalent of 5% of US GDP, with knock-on effects for growth around the world.

One of the specific sticking points with the Trump plan highlighted by experts has been how the sums add up. On the one hand, he wants to see massive tax cuts, greater he said than any time since President Reagan; but on the other he also wants to pump more money into the US military and to preserve spending on social security and medicare.

Independent analysis has calculated that his tax cuts would bring down federal revenues by almost $10tn (trillion) over a decade, leaving even less fat in the system to cover his other ambitions.

The point was raised in a question to Trump after his speech from Martin Feldstein, an economics professor from Harvard, who asked the Republican nominee what assets he would deploy to offset the sharp reduction in federal revenue from tax cuts. The candidate replied that he believed eventually, over time it will work out. The big thing over neutrality is the amount of business we will generate, and how we will stop companies take jobs out of the country.

Despite the new figures that he peppered through his talk, the policy he outlined remained posited on faith that his strong leadership would bring about levels of growth and job creation that have eluded recent incumbents of the Oval Office. This is what our new future will look like, he said. Im going to lower your taxes, Im going to get rid of regulation, Im going to unleash American energy. We are going to put the American worker back to work.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/15/donald-trump-jobs-vision-25-million-economic-policy


Let’s drug-test the rich before approving tax deductions, US congresswoman says

Gwen Moore to propose bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000, in response to rights criminalization of poverty

Wisconsins governor, Scott Walker, really, really wants to know if needy residents of his state use recreational drugs. Hes already put into effect legislation forcing applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tanf), commonly known as welfare, to answer questions about their potential drug use and submit to testing if their answers provide a reasonable suspicion that they might use controlled substances. Hes suing the federal government for the right to test Wisconsin participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), better known as food stamps, for the same reason. And in May, he issued new administrative rules to implement drug testing for some people seeking unemployment benefits in the state.

His is not a unique interest: Governor Rick Scott of Florida, for instance, spent four years and $1.5m taxpayer dollars fighting for the right to test all his states Tanf recipients; and Alabama congressman Robert Aderholt has proposed legislation to overturn the law that prevents the testing of Snap recipients.

Milwaukee congresswoman Gwen Moore, though, is sick and tired, and sick and tired of being sick and tired, of the criminalization of poverty she said in an interview on Wednesday. And, she added: Were not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, lets start on the other end of the income spectrum.

Moore plans to introduce a bill on Thursday that she thinks will even the playing field or, at least, engage the wealthy in a conversation about what fair tax policy looks like. The bill, called the Top 1% Accountability Act, would force taxpayers with itemized deductions of more than $150,000 which, according to 2011 tax data compiled by the IRS, would only be households with a yearly federal adjusted gross income of more than $1m to submit to the IRS a clear drug test from a sample no more than three months old, or take the much lower standard deduction when filing their taxes. (In 2016, for comparison, the standard deduction for single people or married people filing separately is $6,300.)

Moore said she was inspired by fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan, the current House speaker, to introduce the bill. When he stood in front of a drug treatment center and rolled out his anti-poverty initiative, pushing this narrative that poor people are drug addicts, that was the last straw, she said, referring to a speech that Ryan made last week.

Though most people think about their tax deductions and credits particularly those such as mortgage interest or charitable deductions as part of the governments revenue system, they are considered expenditures within the federal government, as they subtract from government revenue and are often instituted to subsidize, reward or encourage taxpayer behaviors.

It might use slightly different mechanisms, but the government provides money to Tanf, Snap and unemployment benefit recipients in much the same way that it provides money to people who own homes, contribute to charities or go to college. Most people including those with high incomes, who qualify for far more deductions and credits than the average person just dont see tax deductions as a subsidy similar to those given to low-income people in the form of benefits.

Moore thinks that needs to change. The benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1%, she said. Its a drop in the bucket.

We spend $81bn on everything everything that you could consider a poverty program, she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, thats a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains, she added. And though her bill wouldnt have any effect on low- and middle-income Americans, clawing back more than $100,000 in deductions from even a handful of super-wealthy recreational drug users who would be forced to pay for their own tests could be a much more significant revenue-raiser than testing Tanf recipients.

Even Oprah gets the mortgage interest deduction, she noted.

For instance, the seven states who implemented drug testing for Tanf recipients spent $1m on testing from the (recent) inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among Tanf recipients has been far below the national average around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population meaning theres been little cost savings from the program. Why? Probably because they cant afford it, notes Moore.

We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done, she said.

The congresswoman, who has been outspoken about using federal assistance programs such as welfare and food stamps to work her way out poverty, said: Im grateful for the taxpayers for that, and I have given back tenfold.

I think everyone should have that same opportunity.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/16/gwen-moore-drug-test-rich-for-tax-deductions


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