Students, professors break down Trump’s tax returns

Marisa Foglia, Pop Culture Reporter


Professors and students at Eastern helped explain the significance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent tax release controversy and how they believe it will affect the upcoming election.

The scandal started because Trump has refused to release his tax returns.

According to the Tax History Project, the past nine Republican presidential candidates have released their tax returns during their campaigns. Most presidential candidates have been releasing their tax returns since the 1970s.

Political science professor Melinda Mueller said there are no rules that candidates have to release their tax returns, but it is one indication of who they are. “Candidates will typically release their medical documents as well,” Mueller said.

Recently, The New York Times has gotten ahold of Trump’s tax records from 1995 and released them to the public. According to The Times, Trump declared a $916 million loss on his income tax returns, meaning he could have legally avoided paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years.

Mueller said it is hard to tell if this tax information has directly affected Trump’s campaign.

“If you look at some of the polling coming out this week, Trump seems to be having a little bit of a harder time, but we don’t know for sure if that’s due to the tax release,” Mueller said.

Since Trump is a businessman, his taxes are going to look different and have different rules applied to them.

Mueller said with the amount of wealth Trump has, the public will see tax returns that do not look like the average person’s tax returns. The same thing applies to Clinton’s tax returns.

Joey Marshall, a senior accounting major, said by claiming a significant loss through a business, the government could allow someone to claim tax reductions from two years in the past and up to twenty years in the future.

Marshall said Trump is not doing anything illegal according to law.

“It’s to encourage businesses,” he said. “If I bought equipment, and I wasn’t able to collect that on my tax reductions in the future, I’m not going to start a business because it’s just not worth it.”

Mueller said Trump has resonated with some people who feel underrepresented in politics.

“I think that people feel he is a successful millionaire and therefore would be successful at running the government,” she said.

Shona Coleman, a senior history and theatre major, said Trump’s tax scandal, along with Clinton’s emails, are distracting people from the real issues at hand—listening to the candidates’ political ideas. However, Mueller said anytime we learn something from the candidates, it helps us better understand them.

“If this tax return scandal alerts people to learn more about the candidates, then that is a good thing,” Mueller said.

Marisa Foglia can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]