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Trump’s sleazy tax evasion tactics are business as usual for the rich

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President Donald Trump’s hefty losses declared on his taxes were shocking to most Americans who believed his claim that he was a billionaire. It turns out that Trump is actually a billion-dollar loser, having lost more money over the course of ten years than any other person in America. But, it turns out the philosophy of reporting significant losses to avoid paying taxes is a trick the uber-rich have been using for years.

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The Nation wrote Thursday that Republicans may have tried to pass a tax bill that simplified the tax code, but it allowed rules to persist that gives the rich an out on so-called losses.

Citing tax-law professor Lily Batchelder, The Nation noted that claiming losses is just one of the many options that the wealthy can use to hide money from the IRS. Others include setting up sham corporations to funnel money from Trump’s parents to him and his siblings. The Trumps undervalued real-estate holdings, which while at the same time inflating real-estate holdings to show as collateral for loans.

Trump’s parents, “Fred and Mary gave their children over $1 billion but paid just 5 percent of it in taxes, despite the tax on gifts and inheritances at the time standing at 55 percent,” The Nation reported.

Some of the ways Trump tried to get away with not paying his taxes are legal but others probably are not. “All are troubling,” the report said.

In the 1990s, Trump used a tactic to “disappear” hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid paying taxes on it. A 2016 New York Times report called it so “legally dubious” that one of his lawyers warned the IRS would probably come after him.

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“He has aggressively fought to reduce what he owes to state and local governments by arguing that the on-paper value of his properties should be lowered, even claiming to tax authorities that his holdings were worth less than the value he assigned them in other legal documents,” The Nation said.

It’s unknown whether what Trump did is illegal without having access to the actual tax returns, which Trump has refused to turn over. It’s unclear if that’s his reasoning. He’s told advisors that he doesn’t want to release the taxes so that they don’t fall under the scrutiny of tax experts who could uncover flaws. If he avoided paying taxes, the IRS would likely come calling for back taxes with hefty penalties.

“The more income people have, the larger the share of it they are likely to have misreported to the IRS. This phenomenon is most acute for the richest 1 percent; those most likely to accurately report their taxes, on the other hand, are the lowest-income filers,” explained the reported.

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After years of budget cuts to the IRS, they’ve become a “toothless” entity, unable to hold wealthy tax avoiders accountable. The annual budget has been cut by $2 billion since 2010 when the GOP took over Congress. With it, audits fell by 42 percent, primarily for the rich, with the top 1 percent benefitting the most.

“As it’s gone easier on the rich, the agency has kept its sights trained on the poor,” The Nation said. “While the audit rate for those making millions of dollars a year has fallen 52 to 70 percent, it has dropped by only about a third for people who receive the earned income tax credit.”

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If there’s a tax-evasion problem, it exists at the top and American bills aren’t being paid because of it.


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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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Trump has committed at least 11 disgraceful acts just since April: conservative

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On Saturday, writing for The Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot outlined all of the chaos President Donald Trump has caused just in the last three months — arguing that "he has disgraced the nation’s highest office as no previous occupant has come close to doing."

"Think about all that has happened since April 5," wrote Boot. "That was before security forces attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square so that Trump could stage a bizarre photo-op. Before he pushed to send the armed forces into the streets. Before he embraced 'white power' and called Black Lives Matter 'a symbol of hate.' Before he vowed to veto the defense authorization bill to prevent the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals. Before he used the novel coronavirus as an excuse to shut down immigration and threatened to revoke the visas of college students unable to attend classes in the fall."

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