The Sad, Pathetic, Almost Surely True Reason Donald Trump Does Not Release His Tax Returns

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a tremendous amount of attention given to Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. Huge majorities of the public say that he should release them. There were big marches to this effect on Tax Day. Now, by firing FBI Director James Comey, Trump has stirred up more suspicion of his own collusion with the Russian government, which generates even more interest in his financial ties to Russia. He has now released a letter from his lawyers denying significant financial involvement with Russia. Some are asking, if he has nothing to hide in this regard, why he doesn’t release his tax returns?

I am not an accountant or a tax attorney. But it seems like if you’re Donald Trump and you’re getting lots of money from Russia that you’d like the public (or, for that matter, the IRS) not to see, you have a lot of ways of disguising it. Russia could lend you the money through a shell corporation. Russia could lend the money to the Trump Organization, and then pass it through to you. Surely you can get money from Russia without it showing up on your personal tax returns.

The real reason that Donald Trump does not release his tax returns almost surely has nothing to do with Russia. The sad, pathetic fact is that Donald Trump does not release his tax returns because he is not as wealthy as he says he is, and he doesn’t want the world to find out. He’s probably worth “only” a few hundred million dollars rather than ten billion dollars, as he has claimed.

Of course, I don’t know for a fact that this is the real reason Trump hasn’t released his taxes. It could be that there’s something more damning (although I doubt it’s that he pays a low rate — we already know that based on what’s been leaked). Or he could be withholding them out of pure spite, just because he can. And I suppose it’s possible he’s actually worth several billion dollars. But think about what Donald Trump is most afraid of the world finding out. I don’t think it has anything to do with shady financial dealings or aggressive accounting. He’s most afraid that the world will find out he’s really not as wealthy as he claims, because he is a pathetically insecure man who bases his self-worth on the monetary value of his assets. Truly sad.

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