As I noted not long ago in commemoration of Labor Day, the average employee at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Oklahoma City earns $29,489. This is hard, physically taxing work that, according to ZipRecruiter, is roughly $10,000 below the average annual pay for an hourly wage employee in Oklahoma.
Now, if you earn $29,489 each year, you reside in the 12 percent tax bracket. In that bracket, the first $9,700 of your salary will be taxed at a 10 percent rate, The remaining $19,789 is taxed at 12 percent, which means an average worker at that facility pays $3,344.68 in federal income tax.
Opinion by George D. Lang
President Donald Trump, an alleged billionaire, paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, or $2,594.68 less than the average Oklahoma City Amazon worker filing without deductions.
According to The New York Times, Trump did not pay any federal income tax for 10 of the 15 previous years, and apparently that is not even good enough for Trump.
As news of the NYT report spread, Trump told the White House Press Corp on Sunday that the “IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the Tea Party — like they treated the Tea Party. And they don’t treat me well. They treat me very badly.”
It is hard to tell what Trump is talking about half the time, but he seems to be referring to the Internal Revenue Service’s investigation of various National Tea Party Coalition/Tea Party Patriots leaders who did not like to pay their taxes, either. At any rate, on July 9, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that “they treat — they treat me horribly, the IRS, horribly. It’s a disgrace what’s happened.”
The disgrace is that the coddled (alleged) billionaire President of the United States, a man whose Trump Tower penthouse features a gold toilet, is complaining about treatment from the IRS after he exploited multiple loopholes to pay hardly anything. And when he did pay, it was far less than most of the people who voted for him in 2016.
When Trump’s supporters are confronted with the ever-mounting evidence that their hero games the system in his favor, they see it as a point of pride, as proof that he has the best people on staff to guide him through loopholes. But when Trump avoided paying taxes on his earnings, he ripped off all of us.
If you serve in the military or at least enjoy the protection it provides, he stole from you. If your child is in public school, Trump kept his money from flowing to your local classroom. If the highway you drive down or the bridge you cross every day is not safe anymore, it is due, in part, to Trump refusing to pay his share of taxes.
There is nothing to admire here. Trump got out of paying his share, but everyone who could not afford the accountants and tax attorneys needed to achieve such low taxation got swindled.
As Trump’s former consigliere Michael Cohen testified before Congress on Feb. 27, 2019, “Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
All of this matters because Trump is facing legal jeopardy on multiple fronts, including from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is reportedly pursuing a multi-tiered investigation into his finances. Trump cannot be pardoned from state-level crimes committed within James’ jurisdiction, so her investigation is not going away.
But U.S. Attorney General and current Trump consigliere William Barr insists that Trump cannot be indicted for crimes under the Unitary Executive Theory of the United States Constitution, so both Trump’s state-level crimes and any potential federal charges cannot roll forward while he is in office.
This is why Trump, when asked if he would peaceably leave the White House if defeated, told reporters, “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.” He desperately wants to hang onto the presidency, because it might be the only thing that keeps him from spending the rest of his life in prison.
If Trump leaves office, the protections offered by the flimsy justifications of the Unitary Executive Theory all fall away, which is why so many high-level military and intelligence officials are warning that he might refuse to leave the White House in the event of defeat. And that is why he wants Amy Coney Barrett confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the U.S. Supreme Court: to protect Trump in the event that he mounts a multilateral attack on the Nov. 3 election results.
Perhaps the least shocking outcome of the NYT report was that Trump spent upward of $70,000 on hairstyling while he hosted “The Apprentice,” which was written off as a business expense. Most people who would try such a tax stunt would face prison time. I am quite certain that one of Trump’s greatest fears, the thing that shocks him out of bed for early morning rage tweets, is that there will be no such service provided in federal prison.