The New York Times has, they believe, a groundbreaking story on Donald Trump’s complex Federal tax avoidance scheme.
Trump, they say, used a little-known tax law provision to take a tax deduction equivalent to a major loss, using his $916 million downfall to help cancel out years of future taxable income. The cancelled debt, they claim, under normal circumstances, should have resulted in a far smaller deduction, if not the equivalent of taxable income. But instead Trump stretched the law to his own personal gain.
The NYT‘s tax expert, Steven M. Rosenthal of the “nonpartisan Tax Policy Center,” tells the Times that Trump didn’t merely use a loophole to avoid paying millions, he “stretched beyond any recognition.” The Times extrapolates that that means Trump’s plan was “legally dubious,” “conjured from highly technical tax court rulings.”
But while Trump may have been creative in his tax returns, the Tax Policy Center is hardly a “nonpartisan” or “non-ideological” source for tax law analysis. It has its own policy agenda, aligned with the liberal leaning Brookings Institute and the openly progressive Urban Institute for economic studies. It frowns on nearly all tax cuts and almost every tax avoidance scheme—which they define as problematic only because they cut into government revenue.
During the Republican primaries, the TPC was widely criticized for its hyper-partisan “analysis” of Republican tax plans, and for cherry-picking data—specifically using outdated models so as to ignore any potential economic growth from tax cuts or tax reform. In turn, it has used its elaborate models to malign everyone from Marco Rubio to Mitt Romney and even Ronald Reagan. The Center began its relationship with Brookings, reportedly, to give weight to its opposition to George W. Bush’s tax plans.
TPC, unsurprisingly, gave Trump’s tax plan a major thumbs down. Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, however, have met with rave reviews (though they did take issue with Bernie Sanders’ plan).
If that’s not enough to convince you of TPC’s ideological leanings, note that they’re heavily funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, both of which are very closely aligned with progressive billionaire George Soros, and his Open Society projects. TPC shares board members with the Ford Foundation. Members of the Rockefeller Foundation have such a close relationship with Hillary Clinton that they offered her a “suite of offices” in their building when she left the State Department.
So even if Trump did use a little-understood loophole, the Tax Policy Center certainly has a laundry list of less above-board reasons to malign his financial planning, among them his campaign for President against Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps the Times should have found a more objective source.