Trump, Buffett, and Taxes

I’m done with this election – I’ve already voted, and I confess that I have little patience anymore for political discussions.  My biggest fear is that nobody will get past the 270 electoral vote threshold and we’ll be subjected to this election for a protracted period of time.  What a mess.

However, there is one thing that is annoying me.  I have previously been critical of the discussion surrounding the Clinton Foundation.  I think it’s ridiculous, and largely based out on envy.  Well, now it’s time to air my complaint about the other side.  I’m tired of all the discussion about Donald Trump’s taxes.

Why are Trump’s taxes a viable diversion from Clinton and her email problems?  The media continues to feed us these things as though they have new information.  They don’t.

When Warren Buffett released a statement with some of his personal tax return information the media decided to use this as evidence that Trump did something wrong in using a $900 Million loss to offset future income.  Did anyone mention that Buffett’s own numbers suggest that he avoided paying over $650 million worth of capital gains taxes by contributing appreciated stock to charity? (And that was only one year).  His charitable gifts were over $2.86 Billion for the year, and I’m assuming his basis is practically zero.  The long-term capital gains rate is 20%, but then the Obamacare law applies an additional investment tax on top of that.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying that Buffett did anything wrong.  I applaud his willingness to donate his billions to charitable causes.  I don’t believe he should pay taxes on the given gains.  However, the media’s willingness to overlook his tax savings while using it against Trump is ridiculous.

Finally, I’m hearing rumblings that several IRS audits are ongoing in Utah around the donation of private securities to charities.  I also hear that these are being driven by the national office.  Either the IRS is trying to separate the treatment of public and private securities as charitable gifts, or their efforts are more parochial.

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