By Mike Talavera
Ruling class media outlet The New York Times published a series of stories this week on Donald Trump’s tax returns, claiming that these records point to his failings as a businessman and his corruption as a politician. The exposé, which broke two days before the first presidential debate, is a thinly-veiled ploy by the Democratic faction of the ruing class to support the presidential campaign of Joe Biden, who released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday as a publicity stunt.
While the report was intended to single out Trump, it ended up indicting the entire US political system. Yes, Trump is a parasite, but the tax system was created by and for the parasitic class, the imperialist class, which also includes millionaires like Biden.
Many of Trump’s supporters like him because they think he cheats the system, and many workers, the majority of whom don’t vote, already know that their tax burden is not shared by the ruling class, who avoid paying taxes in various ways. What is not as obvious, and what the Times articles inadvertently show, is to what extent imperialists like Trump and his predecessor Obama work together to protect private property while engaging in reckless competition.
The Times makes the case that Trump has avoided paying much in the way of income tax (none at all for one 10-year-stretch) primarily because he reported losing more money than he made. One of the biggest losses highlighted is that of Trump’s real estate company, the Trump Corporation, which according to their findings has lost $134 million since 2000. What the Times doesn’t explain is that the tax system incentivizes speculative investment such as real estate ventures by allowing capitalists like Trump to claim deductions based on depreciation, the decrease in the value of property over time. Deductions reduce the amount of taxable income, allowing the ruling class, both Democrat and Republican alike, to keep more of their capital and take further risks in order to make more profit.
Some of Trump’s most profitable years, according to the Times, were the ones before the Great Recession, where he raked in hundreds of millions of dollars because of his expanded stardom at the helm of “The Apprentice” reality show. As a real estate mogul, Trump was hit hard by the 2008 housing crash, and he declared over a billion in losses for 2008 and 2009. Those losses were offset, however, thanks to the Obama administration, which also bailed out the big banks, car manufacturers, and other corporations while millions of working people were kicked out of their homes.
As part of ‘recovery’ legislation signed by Obama at the time, business owners could request refunds for past taxes reaching back further than they could have previously. As many other capitalists did, Trump took advantage of this provision and would eventually claim nearly $100 million in refunds, although the payout of those funds is still pending an IRS audit.
The conclusions drawn from this Times investigation center on painting Trump as a doomed individual for the purpose of hurting his chances at reelection. In fact, the truth to be gleaned from the report is that US imperialism itself is damned. The press monopoly is an integral piece of the election machine, and reports like these are intended to stir up hype in order to get people to vote. Proletarian news, on the other hand, dispels the illusion that the core political divide in this country is between Democrats and Republicans when it is chiefly between the ruling class and the workers. On this basis, the only option is to reject elections by boycotting them!
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