If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!
Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Companio de Tobacos v. Collector (1904)
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Now that he is president of ALL the people, and especially those who have not enjoyed the lavish life style he enjoys, he would naturally want to try to help them. It all came to mind when DJT’s budget proposals for 2017 were disclosed. What one part of the proposed budget does, is give every taxpayer the opportunity to make money the way DJT did, by not paying amounts that were rightfully owed by him.
Followers of such things remember the many bankruptcies DJT enjoyed while accumulating his fortune. They enabled him to enhance his wealth by not paying contractors and suppliers for services rendered and materials furnished. The adverse consequences of those DJT practices fell on those DJT refused to pay. They were forced to file liens to get payment, sue DJT, or sit by helplessly as DJT’s obligations to pay them were discharged in bankruptcy. That practice produced a better result for DJT, the debtor, than for the creditors.
A good example of the success of this business practice can be seen in the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. that by all reports is a great success and raking in lots of money for the Trump family. Nonetheless, there are still laborers and suppliers who have not been paid and have been forced to file liens against the hotel in the hope of forcing the Trumps to pay what they owe. As of January 2017, there were more than $5 million in liens filed against the property for unpaid bills.
DJT now wants the citizen to be given the same opportunity not to pay what the citizen owes, as he himself has done over the years, thus enhancing the citizen’s personal wealth. To do that, DJT has proposed a budget that will severely cut funding for the IRS, and lessen the chances that those who fail to pay taxes will get caught.
According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dated April 4, 2016, since 2010 the IRS budget has been cut by 17 percent after adjusting for inflation. According to the report, three quarters of the IRS funding is applied to personnel costs, and the number of staff engaged in enforcing the tax laws has declined by 23 percent. In 2010, 1.1 percent of individual returns were audited, whereas in 2015, only .8 percent of returns were audited. In the five years preceding the report, the IRS collected $30 billion less than in the same time period five years before that. For every $1 spent on IRS tax enforcement, the government gets $4 in increased revenue. Cutting the IRS budget means less revenue for the country. And that’s where DJT comes in.
Although recently approved Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, at first said he wanted to add staff and update IRS technology in order to increase collections, DJT has changed Mr. Mnuchin’s mind. The most recent DJT budget documents show that the IRS is slated to get another 14% cut to its budget. That means less of everything, including audits. And here is where the run of the mill taxpayer gets to enjoy the same benefits DJT has always enjoyed in his business dealings.
The average taxpayer can simply cheat on taxes the way DJT cheated people who worked for him. As the IRS budget is slashed, there is less chance the cheating taxpayer will be caught. Thus, taxpayers who do not pay what they owe, are less likely to be caught and prosecuted, and will be able to enjoy the higher standard of living such conduct provides, just the way DJT has enhanced his standard of living by refusing to pay what he owes. Readers hoping to take advantage of this good fortune should realize, however, that the consequences of cheating the IRS are somewhat different from DJT cheating people with whom he does business, although it is not clear which is less honorable. If the taxpayer is caught, the taxpayer faces severe penalties and possibly prison time. The only adverse consequences DJT suffers from cheating those with whom he has business dealings, is the need to pay legal fees while the effect of the cheating is sorted out in court. Notwithstanding the downside for the cheating taxpayer, by reducing funding for the IRS, the chances those who cheat on their taxes will get caught, are reduced.
There is one additional benefit to slashing the IRS budget by an additional 14%. That is, however, only a benefit for DJT. With fewer auditors employed at the IRS, it will take more time for the IRS to complete auditing DJT’s returns. Those are the returns from which stray pages occasionally make their way into the public domain, but which DJT has promised to release in their entirety as soon as the audits are completed. So sad.