Maybe the biggest reason he won’t release his tax returns is the possibility it would reveal that he is not really a billionaire.
We don’t know what percentage of his real estate empire is owned by other investors. In the early to mid 1990s, he declared bankruptcy for four different businesses, closed down Trump steaks, Trump Air, and other losers.
In 1995, he took a $916 million loss on his income tax return. After that, he started building his personal brand, including fronting real estate and educational scams with silent partners. While paying no taxes for the last twenty-two years has certainly allowed him to rebuild his wealth, we have no idea how much income he has generated.
All we have are his claims about the great business he has built.
Given his track record of lying about everything, doubling down on those lies, and trying to intimidate or silence those who point those lies out to the world, why should we beileve the foundation of his reality, that he is a billionaire?
Everything people believe about him as a candidate — “he can’t be bought,” “he isn’t beholding to lobbyists or special interests,” “he will clean the swamp because no one controls him,” etc. etc. — is based on this fundamental claim that no one can verify.
The Orange in Chief doesn’t care if you think he hired hookers to give him a golden shower. He doesn’t care if you think the Russians help steal the election and he is in their pocket. He doesn’t care if you think he is a racist or a misogynist, or even a serial sexual abuser. He got elected in spite of it.
But what happens if he is exposed as being a lowly millionaire whose entire wealth has been funded by all the suckers he’s taken advantage of?
That might be the one thing he can’t allow to come to light.