Jay Evensen: Forget Trump; why not make all our tax returns public?

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  • SC Matt Saline, MI
    April 15, 2019 1:23 p.m.

    @Shaun:

    "Conservatives want the Clinton foundation throughly [sic] investigated by the feds and irs but claim trump should be given a complete pass.

    There is a word for that."

    Is it the same word for the liberals who give the Clinton foundation a free pass, but want Trump thoroughly investigated?

  • SC Matt Saline, MI
    April 15, 2019 1:20 p.m.

    @one old man:

    "Then everyone could see that people like me actually pay a higher effective tax rate than millionaires."

    The actual data shows that you're wrong. Because although the IRS doesn't publish individual returns, they do publish aggregate data.

    And it is clear that income tax liability rises quite steeply with income. I don't know your income, of course, but just assuming the most likely range of $50k - $75k, such a taxpayer would undoubtedly be considered "middle class." In 2016, such a taxpayer paid an average of $5385 on average income of $61399. That's about 8.77%.

    And looking at "millionaires", those making $1.0M - $1.5M, the numbers are $338k tax on income of $1.206M, or 28%.

    And you don't even have to believe me. Just look it up yourself at the IRS Statistics of Income website.

    But, of course, you *are* free to change your story and now claim that 28% is too low for somebody making $1.2M per year.

    That I can't debate because it's an opinion. But as far as facts are concerned, you're just 100% wrong.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    April 15, 2019 12:27 p.m.

    To "EscherEnigma " but how does the tax return tell us if they are honest? If they were dishonest, don't you think that they would be dishonest on their taxes? Meaning, if they are a habitual liar and you ask them if they are a liar what sort of response would you expect?

    As I have stated before, if you want to know if a politician is honest, look at the business dealings and taxes of their children, siblings, friends, and large campaign donors. Not just for one year, but get a baseline of a few years before the politician was elected and continue to monitor them for a few years after.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    April 15, 2019 8:56 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701
    "To "EscherEnigma" and what is your point?"
    That making tax returns public is easier then electing "honest" politicians. I wasn't subtle or coy about this, so I don't understand your confusion.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    April 15, 2019 8:41 a.m.

    To "Fullypresent " how do you define what a person's "fair share" of taxes are. The only question is were their taxes filed in accordance with the law.

    For instance, Mitt Romney pointed out that he could legally pay fewer taxes, but he voluntarily pays more.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    April 14, 2019 8:58 a.m.

    IRS does audits. We were audited regularly merely because we had a close relative working for the IRS.

    The tax laws are full of assorted rules, worksheets, tables, exceptions, (ie so-called loopholes) that are legitimately used by many.

    If you have a problem with any of that, then your problem is with either the tax laws, or the IRS auditing system.

    Looks like many are being diverted by a red herring.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    April 13, 2019 11:29 p.m.

    Public has a right to know if Trump has ever paid his fair share of taxes. The tax deal he & Republicans passed last year put more $ into he & his families pockets with their business interests. Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. But, reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax "rebate", making its tax rate -1%! NO taxes on 11.2 billion in profits! Netflix saw its highest profits ever in 2018, but didn't pay any taxes that same year. These are just 2 examples. 60 of the biggest companies did not pay the federal gov't any federal taxes on 79 billion dollars! Average American who paid anywhere from 10-32% tax rate for federal taxes to be ok with this!

    In 2017, only 2.9% of U.S. households earned more than $250,000, yet paid 55% of all income taxes. People earning less than $128,400 in 2018 pay Social Security taxes on 100% of their income, while those earning more pay taxes only on their first $128,400. In other words, those who earn $500,000 pay Social Security taxes on just 25.7% of their income. on a % basis, minimum wage earners pay more in Social Security taxes than those with higher incomes do.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    April 13, 2019 6:51 a.m.

    "To "UtahBlueDevil " the easier solution is to only elect honest people. It used to be that most politicians were respected and seen as examples in a community. Now, that has changed. There are few politicians that are respectable or honest."

    Redshirt..... I really wish that was as true as we remember it to be. But from the CrÉdit Mobilier Scandal to the The Petticoat Affair, and The Petticoat Affair, there are many other examples (The Hamilton-Reynolds Affair)... we have always had a challenge with people taking advantage of their position or making morally challenging decisions.

    But I would agree - it would be nice if we could simply elect people of good moral values. But when we are given options like Clinton v. Trump.... it becomes pretty hard to do so placing laws that force transparency are our next option. Illinois just passed its first attempt at that - although on very partisan lines.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    April 12, 2019 2:42 p.m.

    Why have any privacy? The IRS is responsible for determining the legality of our tax returns. If they are satisfied, it is no one else's business. We rightly object to online collection and sharing of personal data by businesses and the same applies to our tax returns.

  • one old man MSC, UT
    April 12, 2019 1:58 p.m.

    Red Shirt, when you wrote : "To "Unreconstructed Reb" unless a person has been in office for the past 3 to 5 years, looking at their previous tax returns doesn't tell us much. Plus, looking at only the candidate's tax records doesn't show how they use their position to get money to their children, friends, family, and supporters. The tax returns of the candidate are easy to manipulate to paint the picture they want to paint. The actual story about their honesty or corruption is seen when looking at the people around them."

    Did you not realize that you just laid out the reasons why it's vital that trump be thoroughly investigated?

    Thank you.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    April 12, 2019 1:54 p.m.

    To "EscherEnigma" and what is your point? Are you saying that since we can't find honest people to support in politics that we should just accept the slime that comes along and not try to change it?

    If you are saying that it can't be done because no other nation has done it isn't really a reason either. Before we built rockets nobody had ever left the atmosphere. Before the US came about nobody had ever established a Republic like the US. We are a nation of people that can do hard things. We can find honest people to vote for, it just takes some minimal effort.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    April 12, 2019 1:27 p.m.

    @RedShirt
    "To "UtahBlueDevil " the easier solution is to only elect honest people. "
    No society anywhere in the world has figured out how to do *that*. But sure, rewriting human nature is "easier" then making tax returns public (something that *has* been done before).

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    April 12, 2019 9:26 a.m.

    Sounds good to me.

    Other benefits would be that folks would have accurate information when bargaining for raises/starting salaries, folks would be able to look-up whether or not they're being paid less then their similarly situated co-workers, and so-on.

    And despite fears that folks in such situations would resent their co-workers, what normally happens is that after discovering a disparity they resent their *bosses* (as they should).

    So sounds good to me. Lets do it.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 12, 2019 8:40 a.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil " the easier solution is to only elect honest people. It used to be that most politicians were respected and seen as examples in a community. Now, that has changed. There are few politicians that are respectable or honest.

    To "Unreconstructed Reb" unless a person has been in office for the past 3 to 5 years, looking at their previous tax returns doesn't tell us much. Plus, looking at only the candidate's tax records doesn't show how they use their position to get money to their children, friends, family, and supporters. The tax returns of the candidate are easy to manipulate to paint the picture they want to paint. The actual story about their honesty or corruption is seen when looking at the people around them.

  • Puukko Orem , 00
    April 12, 2019 5:04 a.m.

    My tax returns are my business and mine only. If I was President Trump I wouldn't show them either. Who cares what about his returns? If the IRS is ok with Presidents Trumps returns then pelosi should by ok too.

  • Unreconstructed Reb BE, 00
    April 11, 2019 9:24 p.m.

    Redshirt, you're assuming much to claim that I'm opposed to the same treatment of the Clintons -- who did release their taxes, BTW.

    I am pro transparency for anyone who is in a position of public trust where self-dealing is a danger, so stop the whataboutism.

    What ever the Clintons may or may not have done is entirely irrelevant to Trump's potential culpability. I have as little interest in protecting them from fraud as you should have regarding the incumbent.

  • MOMS Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 8:56 p.m.

    I prize my privacy. It is one of the fundamental privileges of American life. The Fourth Amendment (when observed) protects us all from unreasonable invasions of privacy.
    No one, including the author, would enjoy a world in which strangers could simply walk in his house and search for something.

    Have we all gone mad?

  • niedest , 00
    April 11, 2019 8:08 p.m.

    Come on, people want to see Trumps tax papers, wont it also be fair to see the speaker of the house and senate minority leader tax papers, I mean if its good for one, why not all members of congress too.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 11, 2019 7:57 p.m.

    "Forget Trump; why not make all our tax returns public?"

    Because trump says and does things on an almost daily basis that are inane. We cannot forget trump. As for our tax returns, and the reason we cannot forget trump, is that he's President. I'm not. He's got a level of accountability to all of us that we probably don't have to one another. We deserve better.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    April 11, 2019 6:45 p.m.

    Conservatives want the Clinton foundation throughly investigated by the feds and irs but claim trump should be given a complete pass.

    There is a word for that.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 11, 2019 6:34 p.m.

    I appreciate this letter, but am saddened so many seem to have missed the very salient point.

    It is easy to think of others as, well, others. Whether it is "the rich", or "politicians", members of the "wrong political party", the wrong (or any) church, or living on the wrong side of town, these biases and bigotries are every bit as strong as those based on race, ethnicity, skin color, sexual orientation, or gender. What Jay has done for us here is given us a chance to consider whether we'd like to have our own tax returns, revealing our intimate financial details made public. That would include charitable giving, perhaps medical costs revealing very private medical conditions (should those on drugs to treat AIDS/HIV have that made public), and other details.

    Yes, past presidentital candidates have disclosed their personal taxes. But neither JFK nor Rockefeller ever turned over data from their family trusts that actually controlled most of the money. Ditto Bill and Hillary.

    If you want to mandate candidates disclose financials, extend it to trusts and family members as well. And then don't be shocked when even fewer decent people are willing to run for office.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    April 11, 2019 6:06 p.m.

    Redshirt.... we got to start somewhere. 3 years, 5 years... lets start with something. I would love to have full disclosure... but waiting for perfection isn't going to get us far. Lets start with something.... and if need be... strengthen the law further.

    I also agree that we need to have stronger anti laundering laws - preventing those who served from flipping over to work for those they governed. We need to bring trust back...

  • oldbasketball Draper, UT
    April 11, 2019 4:11 p.m.

    Ridiculous notion.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 3:58 p.m.

    Is not the potential for identity theft greatly heightened by such private information made public ? And as already mentioned, making people vulnerable to scams and other damaging actions. Would this be a source of 'mailing lists' ? Let's not open Pandora's box.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 3:34 p.m.

    One would think a senior journalist like Mr Evensen would better appreciate the difference between the expectations of privacy for a regular citizen and for the President of the United States. Most media types understand that the law often treats public officials and private citizens quite differently when it comes to privacy.

    There's no reason for us to see our neighbor's tax returns, but when it comes to high-ranking public officials, it's important that we know they're not lying or using their office for private gain. That's why other Presidents voluntarily released their tax returns and put their assets in a blind trust. Trump's failure to do so raises all sorts of red flags, especially since he's long been known to conceal the truth about his business dealings and his wealth.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 3:07 p.m.

    Well, Jay Evensen, it will probably please you to hear that anyone's tax returns ARE in fact available to the Chairperson of certain House and Senate Committees. All they have to do is request them. That doesn't mean that, once obtained, the Committees would necessarily make them public.

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 11, 2019 3:04 p.m.

    If tax returns were public it would make it easier for con artists to find potential victims and gold diggers to find potential spouses. That might save the rest of us from these parasites of society.

  • one old man MSC, UT
    April 11, 2019 2:37 p.m.

    I'd be glad to.

    Then everyone could see that people like me actually pay a higher effective tax rate than millionaires.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 11, 2019 2:15 p.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" just getting their previous 3 years tax returns doesn't tell us much. All that rule would do would be to get politicians to hide income in various locations. Your small town city council person wouldn't typically have the resources or need to do that, but large town mayors, state, and federal officials would have the resources to be able to hide and bury income streams.

    The better solution wold also have to include all businesses that they own, and all businesses that do do work for the government. You will also need to watch the businesses of all of their friends, acquaintances, large political donors, and other people that can benefit from a politician's influence. You should also keep track of finances and business dealings for politicians, their business interest, family members, family member's businesses, and anybody else who can benefit from government contracts for at least 10 years (20 years would be better) after they leave office to ensure that payments for favors were not delayed.

    If you want to make sure that they are going into to politics for the right reasons and not personal gain, you now have a much larger group to watch than just officials.

  • Rogue77 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 2:00 p.m.

    Mr. Evensen's opinion piece fails to note some important context to the question of whether President Trump's tax returns should be made public. We have a president who declined to divest himself of his business interests when he entered the White House (unlike nearly all other presidents). In light of Trump’s complex business interests in various places around the world, his strained relationship with the truth, and shifting stories on so many issues, Mr. Trump’s tax returns should be released. That would help the public see what his business interests really are and whether they might be affecting his policies and actions as president.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 11, 2019 1:59 p.m.

    To "Unreconstructed Reb" what you say could be said about the Clintons or other powerful politicians, with the exception of the University.

    You don't care when Democrats engage in those things, so why do you care about Republicans who do the same things that Democrats do?

  • deseret pete Springville, UT
    April 11, 2019 1:44 p.m.

    Hardly anyone except professionals, would be able to interpret Trumps tax return or any other Business or individuals who have as many interests as he has. ----- All that would happen in the environment that the Democrats have demonstrated lately would be a continual harping and chirping and endless speculation, ---Jumping to conclusions about his returns and making false accusations as they have for 2 years -- All the people who are claiming this or that know no more than what CNN or the main stream media and Maxine Waters and the rest of the Democrats have been spewing for 2 years. --- They didn't find collusion so now they want another investigation looking for a crime. ---- It is not that hard to see

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    April 11, 2019 1:16 p.m.

    Personally I think there should be a law that requires people in positions of trust that could misuse that position for personal gain. I want to know beyond a reasonable doubt that our elected officials are not gaming the system, using their offices to enrich themselves at our expense. We need to be able to trust their motivations...... important word there... Trust.

    We could require it for all executive positions in government - 3 year tax records. You have to do it to get a loan for your house, why not to run a State or the Federal Government? Trump is just the catalyst that should make this mandatory...

    "The total productivity of Donald Trump has provided more tax revenue and employment than most all other American citizens."

    Worf - And how would you know that? Before I retired recently - my employer paid no income tax on hundreds of millions of income. How do you know what Trump paid. He will not share that with us Worf, how did you get that information? Can you share what you know? We all want to know....

  • Unreconstructed Reb BE, 00
    April 11, 2019 1:05 p.m.

    Tell you what, Jay. When rest of us are in the position of highest power in the land and:

    -have a lengthy history of legally and ethically questionable business practices

    -are monetizing our public office, including having a business literally down the street from the White House

    -are potentially in violation of the Emoluments clause

    -have refused to firewall ourselves from our business to any meaningful degree

    -have ignored clear warnings of personal conflicts of interest between private business and the duties of office

    -are surrounded by questions of who we do business with or owe money to, including sanctioned Russian oligarchs

    -have had a "university" shut down and sued for fraud

    -have been sued thousands of times for failing to pay debts

    -have had a charitable organization shut down for fraud and are barred from managing another charitable institution for several years

    -are under investigation by the State of New York for decades of tax evasion by undervaluing real property on taxes

    -and refuse any meaningful transparency designed to assure Americans that we serve their interests rather than our own

    ...then knock yourself out. Release everyone's taxes.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 11, 2019 12:53 p.m.

    Trump lied about releasing his taxes and the reason.

    Trump does not keep his promises.

    Trump is trying to hide something in his taxes, why break with tradition.

    Defending Trump by saying, there is no law about disclosing your taxes, is more justification for lack of character and honesty, and frankly a pathetic excuse.

    When will we see Trumps birth certificate, I'm beginning to question his origin since he keeps lying about where his father and grandfather are from.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    April 11, 2019 11:54 a.m.

    @worf - McAllen, TX
    April 11, 2019 11:26 a.m.
    The total productivity of Donald Trump has provided more tax revenue and employment than most all other American citizens."

    Yeah? Prove it. What can be proven is the hundreds of businesses and workers that Trump bankrupted and ruined their lives. There are over 2800 lawsuits from contractors, suppliers and workers that Trump either partially paid or never paid at all. There's a reason that US banks, nor, now any European banks won't lend Trump money. That's why he does business with Russians and Saudi's now. Think Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc. (any real billionaires) have trouble getting credit from legit banks?

  • RedShirtHarvard Cambridge, MA
    April 11, 2019 11:36 a.m.

    To "There You Go Again" name the law that requires the POTUS or any political candidate to release tax information?

    The bigger question is why does it matter? Are people going to try to audit him?

  • There You Go Again St George, UT
    April 11, 2019 11:33 a.m.

    trump is currently a republican occupying the WH.

    The Congress is supposed to provide oversight of the Executive Branch.

    Every POTUS since Nixon has provided tax returns.

    Why would trump object to doing the same thing other individuals have done?

    What is he hiding?

    With regard to the headline, all of us have not sworn an oath to protect and defend the COTUS.

    The COTUS as well as standard accepted practice provides a remedy for Americans to know that the people who occupy the Executive Branch are representing the best interests of the American people.

  • worf McAllen, TX
    April 11, 2019 11:26 a.m.

    The total productivity of Donald Trump has provided more tax revenue and employment than most all other American citizens.

  • Count Rushmore Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2019 10:10 a.m.

    It's quite telling that the DesNews does not see this as a privacy issue with extremely broad implications, which, in order to control the narrative, it characterizes as "off-topic or disruptive."

    Rather, it is Mr. Evensen's proposal that is disruptive, because it would open the door to vast invasions of privacy. I invite the reader to contemplate the implications.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    April 11, 2019 9:46 a.m.

    I also want the FBI to investigate a lot of people I don't like just to see f they were colluding with any Russians.