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Old 09-04-2016, 08:39 AM
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Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Tax Returns of US Politicians

Why?

What is the obsession of the public for seeing income tax statements for people running for public office?

In Canada, for example, such information is considered entirely private and there would never be any reason for any public inquiry into such matters.

Why in the hell do US citizens feel the need to see income tax statements from politicians? Isn't that their own personal business and none of your damned business?
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:51 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Possibly because in the U.S. we've elected or nominated tax cheats, which can then cause problems.

Spiro Agnew is the big one. Geraldine Ferraro had some tax issues (well, her husband did).
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:06 AM
enipla enipla is online now
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Well, why not? If you are completely above board, why would you not make them available?

For instance, I have heard that Trump is indebted to the Chinese for 300 million dollars. In debt to Russia too.

That kind of debt could sway policy.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:27 AM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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Part of the "why" is tradition. The vast majority of recent candidates have released them - apparently starting in 1963 with George Romney.

After that long, when a candidate comes along as says "No, I'm not going to do that", it's reasonable to ask "why?" It might be innocent. But it might not be, and people want to know.

It would be different if we had a long history of privacy in this space, but the more recent tradition has changed it.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:31 AM
Quartz Quartz is online now
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Originally Posted by enipla View Post
For instance, I have heard that Trump is indebted to the Chinese for 300 million dollars. In debt to Russia too.
Can you provide sources for both those claims? Be sure to not confuse the debts of Trump's businesses with his personal debts.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:43 AM
Frank Frank is offline
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It would be different if we had a long history of privacy in this space, but the more recent tradition has changed it.
Yeah. Personally, I think releasing tax returns is unnecessary, and none of my business, but the politicians have brought it on themselves.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:57 AM
Chihuahua Chihuahua is offline
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I think OP misunderstands the nature of the tradition. The public as a whole has no reason to see someone else's tax returns. As others have pointed out, it is really none of our business. The issue is that it is a political stratagem whereby each candidate attempts to demonstrate how honest they are. The message is, "You can see from my tax returns that I have nothing to hide." It is, essentially, a form of advertising. And it is not something the citizens demanded. It is something the politicians do voluntarily.

And now we see why the stratagem works: If every other candidate in recent decades has released their tax returns, why does Trump refuse to? The implication is that he has something to hide. The opposing candidate can now claim that they are more honest or transparent than Trump.

It has nothing to do with the citizenry claiming they have some kind of right or public interest to see the tax returns, although given the fact that this tradition has persisted for so long I suspect some have come to see it that way. Being able to send a political message is more important than the actual contents of the tax returns.

Last edited by Chihuahua; 09-04-2016 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:58 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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In Canada, for example, such information is considered entirely private and there would never be any reason for any public inquiry into such matters.
To be fair, Canadians actually know quite a bit about the finances of their head of state (i.e., the Queen), although she has some private wealth that isn't reported.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:04 PM
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John Mace John Mace is online now
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
I think OP misunderstands the nature of the tradition. The public as a whole has no reason to see someone else's tax returns. As others have pointed out, it is really none of our business. The issue is that it is a political stratagem whereby each candidate attempts to demonstrate how honest they are. The message is, "You can see from my tax returns that I have nothing to hide." It is, essentially, a form of advertising. And it is not something the citizens demanded. It is something the politicians do voluntarily..
It also shows how much you gave to charity. Americans like the pols to be generous.
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Old 09-04-2016, 03:10 PM
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Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
I think OP misunderstands the nature of the tradition. The public as a whole has no reason to see someone else's tax returns. As others have pointed out, it is really none of our business. The issue is that it is a political stratagem whereby each candidate attempts to demonstrate how honest they are. The message is, "You can see from my tax returns that I have nothing to hide." It is, essentially, a form of advertising. And it is not something the citizens demanded. It is something the politicians do voluntarily.

And now we see why the stratagem works: If every other candidate in recent decades has released their tax returns, why does Trump refuse to? The implication is that he has something to hide. The opposing candidate can now claim that they are more honest or transparent than Trump.

It has nothing to do with the citizenry claiming they have some kind of right or public interest to see the tax returns, although given the fact that this tradition has persisted for so long I suspect some have come to see it that way. Being able to send a political message is more important than the actual contents of the tax returns.
This makes sense to me. Although it's probably the one and only thing I agree with Donald Trump on: it's none of your business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hogarth View Post
To be fair, Canadians actually know quite a bit about the finances of their head of state (i.e., the Queen), although she has some private wealth that isn't reported.
Well, sure but the Queen has zero political influence.
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Old 09-04-2016, 04:24 PM
snoe snoe is offline
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I don't know if tax cheating is less of a problem north of the border, or if the OP is just displaying some of that famous Canadian Menschlichkeit.

The rich (from whom pretty much all of our major party candidates are drawn) have many ways to avoid taxation. Most are legal, but some aren't, and I think it would be nice to know if any candidate is cheating on his or her taxes. And Trump is especially well-positioned to do so because of his many private companies. From Fortune:
Quote:
Nominees for ambassadorships and cabinet positions are grilled during background checks by IRS agents to ensure that they’re not disguising personal expenses as tax-deductible business costs. But presidential candidates don’t get the same scrutiny. And they should.

There’s no evidence that Trump is charging any of the almost 100 businesses listed in his filing with the Federal Election Commission for personal expenses. Still, he’s a highly unusual candidate in that he owns multiple residences, including a vacation home at Mar-a-Lago, a Boeing 757-200 that he uses for business and pleasure, and around a dozen golf courses in the U.S. and Europe. In 1989, Leona Helmsley, a fellow Manhattan real estate billionaire, went to jail for billing renovations on her weekend home to her company, and failing to pay taxes on the benefits.

Even if Trump were to release his tax returns, they wouldn’t address the personal vs. business expense issue. Hence, voters who value full disclosure would like to see not just his returns, but lots of additional information demonstrating that the two categories are kept scrupulously separate. Given his immense wealth, Trump should be providing a lot more information than previous candidates, not less.
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Old 09-04-2016, 04:50 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
In Canada, for example, such information is considered entirely private and there would never be any reason for any public inquiry into such matters.
To be fair, Canadians actually know quite a bit about the finances of their head of state (i.e., the Queen), although she has some private wealth that isn't reported.
Also, in a parliamentary system, you're not directly electing the head of government.
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Old 09-06-2016, 06:21 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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True, but we know going into an election who the party leaders are and who will be PM depending on which party wins election.
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