As an accountant-turned-writer, it is fitting that Donald Trump’s tax returns were released on the last business day of 2022, giving me the perfect subject for my last Palmer Report piece of the year. Being from Chicago, it is fitting the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion, after a scrappy Chicago financial sleuth George E.Q. Johnson nailed him for tax evasion.
And now, the Manhattan District Attorney has Trump nailed for tax evasion. According to Pulitzer Prize winning lecturer David Cay Johnston, over the past six years Donald Trump used “fake businesses” to file 26 Schedule C’s to report huge expenses to artificially offset earnings on his other business, allowing Trump to turn $154 million of positive income, into $53 million in losses.
Trump knew those tactics were fraudulent. He was audited and tried civilly in New York City and New York State over his 1984 tax returns when he used the same Schedule C tactic to claim $600,000 in losses on his NY businesses. Two judges wrote scathing opinions against Trump, putting him on notice.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating Trump for tax matters. On December 7th, Bragg got convictions on all 17 counts of tax fraud against Trump Organization, which is 100% owned by Donald Trump. So, conviction for tax evasion seems like a sure thing.
But we must prevent this from happening in the future. Currently, there is no federal law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns. When Congress requested Trump’s tax returns four years ago citing a law that required the records be provided, Trump avoided having his returns released or even audited for the first two years of his presidency because his appointed head of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin defied the law.
In 2019, because of Trump, California passed a state law requiring California presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns. However, the California Supreme Court overturned the law citing the California Constitution makes it clear voters must decide. That is why Congress must pass a federal law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns. The good news is, 2022 is going out with a bang. The bang of a jail cell slamming on Donald Trump in 2023.
Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff earned her degree in French from DePaul University then became a Certified Financial Manager. She worked as a finance exec in film production for seven years in Paris, then in Silicon Valley during the dot-com era, and later for various Hollywood production companies, notably as CFO of National Lampoon. She is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband.