posted on 20 March 2017
Written by John Lounsbury
GEI contributor Sig Silber was the first to point out to me that the 2005 tax return "exposed" last week was an unsigned document. While many have said that the many pages of the return which would show the details of income sources and deductions/writeoffs would tell "the real story", a significant question is: Does the document presented even represent the return actually filed?
Why would we suggest the return is fake? Of course, it could have been arbitrarily constructed and have no relationship to the actual return.* But, in our opinion, that is not the most likely situation if the document revealed is not the real return - it could be a preliminary draft as the preparer(s) worked down the path of "exercising" the data to get to the final return with the lowest amount of tax due.
The other tax return revealed to the public by The New York Times (for 1995) was signed:
Compare to the 2005 return:
So this document may not prove that Trump paid $38 milliuon in federal income taxes in 2005 - he might have ended up paying more, or he might have paid nothing.
We suggest that it is not wise to assume we know anything more about the president's past income taxes now than we did before the Rachel Maddow show last Tuesday evening.
Now others have taken the documents at face value. Here is the Rachel Maddow show with Robert Cay Johnson revealing the new document:
And here are Bill Black and James Henry discussing the return on The Real News Network:
Yes, the commentators above raise some valid points. But have they raised these points about a hypothetical and not a real document?
Perhaps you feel the discussions have merit whether the tax return is real or not.
* If the document is completely phony, has a crime been committed? And if so, by who? We are not expert in criminal law, but,unless it could be traced to the president or his representative, we doubt that any criminal (or civil) responsibility would attend. Of course, Donald Trump might have a civil case should he consider the document reflected badly upon him and was completely phony.
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