Release your tax returns

In one of the recent presidential debates, Donald Trump was trying to explain away a loss of nearly $1 dollars on his 1995 federal income taxes by saying he did nothing different than Hillary supporter and billionaire Warren Buffet.

We know about Trump’s 1995 federal tax return because of a lawsuit. According to tax experts, that loss of nearly $1 billion meant he probably hadn’t paid any federal taxes for 18 years.

Donald Trump, breaking with tradition, refused to release his recent federal tax returns during the campaign. He said he would not release his returns because he was “under audit.” We all knew he would never release his taxes. Trump was wrong when he said he had done nothing different than Warren Buffett.

Unlike Mr. Trump, Warren Buffett, also “under audit,” has released his 2015 tax returns and we have an opportunity to examine his record. It shows that his gross income was a hefty $11,563,931 and his federal income taxes were $1,845,557. His deductions were $5,477,694, of which two thirds were from charitable contributions. He actually gave away $2.85 billion in 2015, which by law only a limited amount can be deducted on his federal income taxes. At age 86, he has pledged to give away most of his $65 billion fortune.

Warren Buffett has paid federal income taxes every year since 1944. In one letter to the editor, someone asked if Buffett actually paid taxes at age 14, or was it a typo? It was not a typo; he had a job at 14 years of age and paid $7 in taxes.

Unlike Trump, over the past two decades, Buffett has actually contributed taxes to help pay for veterans’ benefits, defense, protecting the environment, children’s education, assistance to farmers, infrastructure, etc.

I think we need to ask President-elect Donald Trump why he has refused to release his tax returns. The question in my mind is, what are you hiding, Mr. Trump? Are you not as wealthy as you brag about? Are you not very charitable? Are you paying your fair share in federal taxes? We know you have a “bromance” with Russian President Putin. Are you in debt to foreign banks? Russian oligarchs? Please put our mind to rest.

Release your tax returns.