Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

President's tax return not the real issue


April 19, 2017

On Easter Sunday, the world was holding its breath as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and the Syrian conflict stood to blow up.

Congress may be again be careening toward a government shutdown, and key policy conflicts loom on health care and tax policy.

The big fight to Democrats in the street, however, is President Donald Trump’s tax returns. They are demanding stridently, belligerently that he release them.

Presidents since Nixon have done so voluntarily. It’s a show of transparency. But it has always been their option. President Trump has chosen not to until now.

My response: So what?

If and when he does reveal his tax returns as promised, I expect we will receive a document on which ink for redactions will outweigh the paper.

Before he became president, almost by accident since the result surprised even him, Donald Trump was a rich businessman who was not shy or ashamed about his wealth.

As a businessman who prided himself on making deals, he kept many confidences, since you have to in order to stay in business. His tax returns might betray some of those confidences.

His tax returns are likely to reveal he was driven to maximize profits, since that’s another thing businesses must do to stay in business.

That would mean that even his most legal, ethical decisions are likely to be questioned because they benefited his business instead of society at large.

During the campaign, he admitted he had avoided taxes in years in which he lost money, and the media tut-tutted when he called it “smart business.”

It is smart not to pay taxes when you can because you’ve lost money. It’s dumb to find a way to pay taxes if you don’t have to.

I have no interest in seeing what is in the president’s tax returns.

They don’t weigh on whether we increase our military involvement in the Middle East or east Asia. They don’t have any influence on health care or tax policy.

President Trump, a neophyte office-holder who began his political career as arguably the most powerful human on earth, has been bluntly open about his stands on policy matters, often to his own detriment.

We don’t need to see his tax returns to find hidden motives. He hasn’t hidden any of them.

I don’t like all of them. In fact there are many with which I disagree, but I have no doubt about where he stands on just about every issue he’s dealt with.

The president’s tax returns would tell us nothing new and, frankly, since they have not subjected the president to criminal charges, which would be public matters, they are none of my business.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:



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