Here’s a hypothetical look at where Donald Trump’s taxes would have gone, assuming he paid them.
Hillary Clinton insinuated at the first presidential debate that Trump has not paid his share in taxes.
“Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” Clinton said.
Trump jumped in briefly, saying, “That makes me smart.”
The questions about his contribution to the federal coffers have emerged because he has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns. He has claimed he cannot provide them while under audit, an excuse that has tax lawyers scratching their heads. He did say he would release the returns if Clinton were to provide tens of thousands of emails deleted from her private system during her tenure as secretary of state.
After the debate, Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta: “Of course I’ve paid federal taxes.”
His total income, however, is difficult to nail down.
Trump touted his financial disclosure forms, and although they are lengthy, they offer less than a full picture.
In his forms, Trump declared that he earned $611 million between January 2015 and mid-May 2016. However, it is difficult to tell what form his varied sources of reported income amount to, and whether he is conflating revenues with income.
The Wall Street Journal estimated his pretax income over 19 months in 2014 and 2015 would have been $160 million, so for speculative purposes, let’s use that total and assume it’s all “passive income,” like an owner would collect vis–vis rents.
Using H&R Block’s tax calculator, someone with a $160 million income could owe $69,370,931 in federal taxes.
That’s a lot — almost half — and it would be even more with the considerable state and local taxes a New York City resident would have to pay. Trump would likely benefit from multiple tax deductions, which could lower his tax rate substantially. We don’t know exactly because he won’t release his tax returns.
Mitt Romney paid just a 14% tax rate the year before he ran for president, for instance. But since we’re making assumptions on how much money Trump made, for the sake of this exercise, let’s also assume he paid the full tax rate without any deductions.
Where would all this hypothetical tax money go if and when the government collected it?
Clinton rattled off plenty of places at the debate.
“If he’s paid 0, that means 0 for troops, 0 for vets, 0 for schools or health,” Clinton said.
The White House has its own tool to show taxpayers what it says their money is going to.
A speculative “taxpayer receipt” for Trump during the most recent fiscal year showed his money would have gone approximately:
$19.1 million to healthcare
$16.6 million to defense
$12.6 million to “job and family security” (e.g. federal and military retirement programs, food assistance like SNAP, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF)
$6.3 million paying down interest on the national debt
$4.1 million for veterans benefits
$3.6 million education
$1.4 million for immigration and law enforcement
$1.3 million for foreign aid and other international affairs
$1.1 million for energy and environmental considerations
$783,891 for NASA and other scientific endeavors
$672,898 for agriculture
$2.9 million for everything else, including disaster relief, community development and the milieu of other government programs
That’s a lot, but looking back, this would be just a drop in the federal bucket. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the federal government spent $3.7 trillion in 2015. Not counting new borrowing, $3.2 trillion of that came from federal revenues.
Most of the federal budget is focused on three areas: health care, social security and defense.
The rest goes to a mish-mash of investments, benefits and safety net programs. Some of these include outlays for research, education and veterans. The remaining sliver goes to paying interest on the country’s debt.
The national debt is currently on course to reach $20 trillion.
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