While the documents did not provide details on the money flows, Trump owns golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, and his name has adorned luxury hotels from Panama to Canada.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: December 31, 2022 Filed under: just because 15 Comments
Today is the last day of 2022. Another year has gone by without Trump being held criminally accountable. His crimes are being revealed on a daily basis though; perhaps he will pay a price in 2023? We can only hope.
Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote about the public release of Trump’s tax returns, and it’s not looking good for him from that standpoint. Here’s some more analysis out today:
David Cay Johnston at The Daily Beast: Trump’s Taxes Are the Best Case Yet for Putting Him in Prison.
Johnston makes an impassioned argument for using Trump’s manipulations of the tax system to make important changes.
Among other things, Trump’s tax returns make a strong case for restoring the law that until 1924 made all income tax returns public. Newspapers back then ran long lists showing the income of and taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans.
Knowing that your income, deductions, and tax paid will be publicly available can do far more to encourage honest tax-paying than audits, which are increasingly rare and increasingly superficial.
Not even 500 of the nearly 25,000 households reporting incomes of $10 million or more in 2019 were audited. That’s 2 percent—just 1 in 50. Only 66 audits were completed.
People like Trump who earn money from legal sources can cheat like crazy on their tax returns with almost nothing to fear. That’s because fewer than 600 people at all income levels are convicted of tax fraud in a typical year.
That makes the odds of conviction about 1 in 275,000 taxpayers. But the odds for business owners are much better (which is to say less), because most people convicted of tax crimes are drug dealers, politicians who took bribes, or people who paid bribes.
The IRS, as funded by Congress, spent far more money auditing the working poor than the 24,457 households with incomes of $10 million and up in 2019. But don’t get angry at the IRS. They are just the tax police, enforcing the law as they are instructed by Congress. If Congress tells the IRS to focus on high-income tax cheating, it will….
Specific discussion of Trump’s taxes:
Trump also turned a profit off a portion of the tax system, making $2.8 million profit off the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT.
He paid $15.9 million in AMT, while collecting $18.7 million in refunds in 2015 through 2020, as a Congressional staff analysis released last week showed. No one should be able to turn a tax into a profit center, but rich people and big companies do it all the time, as I showed in my book Perfectly Legal.
Since 1987, tens of millions of Americans have paid AMT, mostly married couples with children who are homeowners. Some paid because they spent huge sums on medical expenses to save the life of a family member.
Their AMT, by the way, was used to finance tax rate cuts for the likes of Donald Trump under the George W. Bush 2001 tax law. Think about that. Our Congress taxes the sick to help the rich.
Unlike those American families, Trump gets his AMT refunded.
That’s because of a 1992 law that Trump successfully lobbied Congress to restore after President Ronald Reagan signed a 1986 law denying those juicy AMT refunds to some real estate investors.
This is all Greek to me, but it’s clear that the rich a favored by our tax system. No surprise there.
Bernie Becker and Benjamin Guggenheim at Politico: Trump taxes show foreign income from more than a dozen countries.
Trump’s returns, which were made public by House Democrats on Friday after a lengthy legal fight, disclosed income from 2015 to 2020 from a wide range of foreign countries, including Canada, Panama, the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, among others.
The former president was known for fusing his business interests with America’s highest public office, drawing allegations of using his role to promote his private resorts, direct federal money to his hotels and encourage foreign governments to spend money that would directly benefit the Trump family interests.
His far-flung concerns, foreign and domestic, are nested in more than 400 separate business entities. A 2019 report by the watchdog group OpenSecrets said he had more than $130 million in assets in more than 30 countries.
The six years of tax returns disclosed Friday show that Trump received extensive income from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom — including gross business income of at least $35.3 million from Canada in 2017, the year he entered office.
That year, Trump also brought in $6.5 million from China, $5.8 million from Indonesia and $5.7 million from India.
By 2020, his last full year in office, Trump reported $8.8 million in income from the U.K. and another $3.9 million in Ireland.
David Goldman, Allison Morrow, and Alecia Wallace at CNN Business: Unanswered questions about Trump’s tax returns.
Here are some of the questions; read the rest at the link.
What was Trump doing with a Chinese bank account?
Trump reported having foreign bank accounts, including a bank account in China between 2015 and 2017, his tax returns show.
The tax returns do not show what the bank account was used for or how much money passed through it or to whom. The New York Times first reported about Trump’s Chinese account in 2020, and Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that the account was used to pay taxes on the Trump International Hotels Management’s business push in the country.
Trump did not report the Chinese bank account in personal financial disclosures when he was president, likely because it was listed under his businesses. Yet he may have still been required to report accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
What’s the scope of Trump’s foreign business operations, and who are his partners?
Trump’s companies and business interests span the globe. On his tax return, Trump listed business income, taxes, expenses or other notable financial items from or in Azerbaijan, Panama, Canada, India, Qatar, South Korea, the United Kingdom, China, the Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Grenada, US territory Puerto Rico, Georgia, Israel, Brazil, St. Maarten, Mexico, Indonesia, Ireland, Turkey and St. Vincent.
But the tax returns don’t explain what business ties he had in those countries and with whom he might have been working while he was president.
Why was Trump loaning money to his adult children? And did Trump claim gifts to his children as loans?
In each year of Trump’s presidency, Trump claimed that he had loaned three of his adult children – Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric – undisclosed sums of money on which he collected interest.
The tax returns don’t say how much he lent them or why he gave them loans in the first place.
Between 2017 and 2020, Trump claimed he received exactly $18,000 in interest on a loan he gave his daughter Ivanka Trump and $8,715 in interest from his son Donald Trump, Jr.. In 2017 to 2019, Trump said he received exactly $24,000 from his son Eric Trump, and Eric paid him $19,605 in interest in 2020.
The bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said the loans and the amounts of claimed interest could indicate Trump was disguising gifts to his children. If the interest Trump claims to have charged his children was not at market rate, for example, it could be considered a gift for tax purposes, requiring him to pay a higher tax rate on the money.
More interesting questions at the link.
The New York Times with more evidence of corruption on the Supreme Court: A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices.
In some years, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. does the honors. In others, it might be Justice Sonia Sotomayor or Justice Clarence Thomas presenting the squared-off hunks of marble affixed with the Supreme Court’s gilded seal.
Hewed from slabs left over from the 1930s construction of the nation’s high court and handed out in its magnificent Great Hall, they are a unique status symbol in a town that craves them. And while the ideological bents of the justices bestowing them might vary, there is one constant: All the recipients have given at least $5,000 to a charity favored by the justices, and, more often than not, the donors have a significant stake in the way the court decides cases.
The charity, the Supreme Court Historical Society, is ostensibly independent of the judicial branch of government, but in reality the two are inextricably intertwined. The charity’s stated mission is straightforward: to preserve the court’s history and educate the public about the court’s importance in American life. But over the years the society has also become a vehicle for those seeking access to nine of the most reclusive and powerful people in the nation. The justices attend the society’s annual black-tie dinner soirees, where they mingle with donors and thank them for their generosity, and serve as M.C.s to more regular society-sponsored lectures or re-enactments of famous cases.
The society has raised more than $23 million over the last two decades. Because of its nonprofit status, it does not have to publicly disclose its donors — and declined when asked to do so. But The New York Times was able to identify the sources behind more than $10.7 million raised since 2003, the first year for which relevant records were available.
At least $6.4 million — or 60 percent — came from corporations, special interest groups, or lawyers and firms that argued cases before the court, according to an analysis of archived historical society newsletters and publicly available records that detail grants given to the society by foundations. Of that, at least $4.7 million came from individuals or entities in years when they had a pending interest in a federal court case on appeal or at the high court, records show.
There’s just no end to the corruption, is there?
This doesn’t look good for Elon Musk. Kyle Wiggers at TechCrunch: Fidelity slashes the value of its Twitter stake by over half.
Fidelity, which was among the group of outside investors that helped Elon Musk finance his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, has slashed the value of its stake in Twitter by 56%. The recalculation comes as Twitter navigates a number of challenges, most the result of chaotic management decisions — including an exodus of advertisers from the network.
Fidelity’s Blue Chip Growth Fund stake in Twitter was valued at around $8.63 million as of November, according to a monthly disclosure and Fidelity Contrafund notice first reported today by Axios. That’s down from $19.66 million as of the end of October.
Macroeconomic trends are likely to blame in part. Stripe took a 28% internal valuation cut in July, while Instacart this week reportedly suffered a 75% cut to its valuation.
But Twitter’s wishy-washy policies post-Musk clearly haven’t helped matters.
The network’s become less stable at a technical level as of late, on Wednesday suffering outages after Musk made “significant” backend server architecture changes. Twitter recently laid off employees in its public policy and engineering department, dissolving the group responsible for weighing in on content moderation and human rights-related issues such as suicide prevention. And the company’s raised the ire of regulators after banning — and then quickly reinstating — accounts belonging to prominent journalists.
There were two notable deaths yesterday.
AP: Benedict XVI, first pope to resign in 600 years, dies at 95.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the shy German theologian who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe but will forever be remembered as the first pontiff in 600 years to resign from the job, died Saturday. He was 95.
Benedict stunned the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced, in his typical, soft-spoken Latin, that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church that he had steered for eight years through scandal and indifference.
His dramatic decision paved the way for the conclave that elected Pope Francis as his successor. The two popes then lived side-by-side in the Vatican gardens, an unprecedented arrangement that set the stage for future “popes emeritus” to do the same.
And now Francis will celebrate Benedict’s funeral Mass on Thursday, the first time in the modern age that a current pope will eulogize a retired one. As tributes poured in from political and religious leaders around the world, Francis himself praised Benedict’s “kindness” Saturday and thanked him for “his testimony of faith and prayer, especially in these final years of retired life.” [….]
The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger never wanted to be pope, planning at age 78 to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.
Instead, he was forced to follow the footsteps of the beloved St. John Paul II and run the church through the fallout of the clerical sex abuse scandal and then a second scandal that erupted when his own butler stole his personal papers and gave them to a journalist.
Being elected pope, he once said, felt like a “guillotine” had come down on him.
The New York Times: Barbara Walters, a First Among TV Newswomen, Is Dead at 93.
Barbara Walters, who broke barriers for women as the first female co-host of the “Today” show and the first female anchor of a network evening news program, and who as an interviewer of celebrities became one herself, helping to blur the line between news and entertainment, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 93.
Her publicist, Cindi Berger, confirmed the death but did not cite a cause. ABC News, where Ms. Walters was a longtime anchor and a creator of the talk show “The View,” reported the death earlier.
Ms. Walters spent more than 50 years in front of the camera and, until she was 84, continued to appear on “The View.” In one-on-one interviews, she was best known for delving, with genteel insistence, into the private lives and emotional states of movie stars, heads of state and other high-profile subjects.
Ms. Walters first made her mark on the “Today” show on NBC, where she began appearing regularly on camera in 1964; she was officially named co-host a decade later. Her success kicked open the door for future network anchors like Jane Pauley, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer.
Ms. Walters began at NBC as a writer in 1961, the token woman in the “Today” writers’ room. When she left NBC for ABC in 1976 to be a co-anchor of the evening news with Harry Reasoner, she became known as the “million-dollar baby” because of her five-year, $5 million contract.
The move to the co-anchor’s chair made her not only the highest-profile female journalist in television history, but also the highest-paid news anchor, male or female, and her arrival signaled something of a cultural shift: the moment when news anchors began to be seen less as infallible authority figures, in the Walter Cronkite mold, and more as celebrities. A disgruntled Mr. Reasoner privately dismissed her hiring as a gimmick.
Gimmick or not, the ABC experiment failed. Chemistry between the co-anchors was nonexistent, ratings remained low, and in 1978 Mr. Reasoner left for CBS, his original television home, and Ms. Walters’s role changed from co-anchor to contributor as the network instituted an all-male multiple-anchor format. Shortly after that she began contributing reports to ABC’s newsmagazine show “20/20.” In 1984 she became the show’s permanent co-host alongside Hugh Downs, her old “Today” colleague.
But it was her “Barbara Walters Specials” more than anything else that made her a star, enshrining her as an indefatigable chronicler of the rich, the powerful and the infamous. The specials, which began in 1976, made Ms. Walters as famous, or nearly as famous, as the people she interviewed.
The Los Angeles Times: Barbara Walters dies at 93; news anchor broke the boy’s club of network television.
Barbara Walters, the first woman to break up the all-male club of network television anchors and one of the last remaining megastars in broadcast news who deftly coaxed world leaders and celebrities alike into revealing their secrets and deepest fears, has died.
“Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones, She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists but for all women,” Cindi Berger, Walters’ publicist, said in a statement to The Times….
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, Walters’ former boss, announced on Twitter that Walters died Friday evening at her home in New York.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state and leaders of regimes to the biggest celebrities and sports icons,” Iger wrote….
A canny interviewer who prodded ranks of public figures into tearful confessions, Walters was an aggressive practitioner of “the get” who outmaneuvered competitors to land exclusives with figures as varied as Cuban leader Fidel Castro, actress Katharine Hepburn and White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
She made history when she was named the first female co-host of NBC’s “Today” show in 1974 and again two years later when ABC tapped her as the first female co-anchor of the network evening news. Walters faced open hostility from her male counterparts in both places, but never let it rattle her publicly, despite being shadowed by deep insecurities that she said lifted only late in her career.
“I was completely unwelcome,” she told The Times in 2008. “They didn’t want a woman, and they didn’t want me.”
Veteran network producer Av Westin, who worked with her at CBS and ABC, said Walters overcame what was a huge hurdle at the time: “To be able to plow through the resistance of a woman being accepted as more than a bit of pretty fluff — she really was the first who did that.”
She was a trailblazer, that’s for sure.
That’s all I have for you today. What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following today?
I wish you all a very happy new year!
Same to you!!!
Happy New Year to you and all SkyDancers!
2 hours ago
Writer, journalist, editor, filmmaker, prof
“Trump wanting to trademark “Rigged Election!” (per j6 committee) is so on brand.”
Bleeding and in pain, she couldn’t get 2 Louisiana ERs to answer: Is it a miscarriage?
December 29, 20225:00 AM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
“Kaitlyn Joshua says she was told to wait weeks for her first prenatal appointment because of Louisiana’s abortion ban. When she started to have heavy bleeding and labor-like pains, she sought care at two separate ERs, but both times, she was sent home without a clear understanding of whether she was miscarrying or her treatment options. The experience led her and her husband to decide not to have more children for now.”
This is horrific. I don’t see how these doctors can live with themselves.
That’s one of the things that’s surprised me about the whole crime-against-humanity that is anti-abortion law: how willing so many providers, including pharmacists, seem to be obey any insane law that gets thrown out there.
I (obviously stupidly) assumed that so many health professionals would refuse to abide by the horrific laws that the laws wouldn’t last long.
As it is, yes, how do they live with themselves?
Happy New Year ya’ll.
Barbara Walters broke barriers for sure, but personally I think her style of interview could be abrasive and hurtful to the unlucky interviewees. I also think if you have no regrets on your deathbed there is something you might be missing, so wonder why her spokespeople would say that. My understanding is she suffered from dementia so I don’t believe she said that.
Don’t ask me how I feel about Catholic Popes.
The popes seem to be in the role of mini-gods.
This Ukrainian provides services for cats made homeless and injured by the war.
Happy New Year, Skydancers!