Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Donald Trump not paying tax is not the issue!

So on the news this morning, we hear that Donald Trump telling the world that he has a responsibility to pay as little tax as possible. Before we all throw our arms up in horror, lets just have a reality check. Do you shop in a duty free store? Have you bought imported cigarettes? Have you paid a builder or odd job man cash for a cheaper price? Do you invest in an ISA? If you are a businessman, do you employ an accountant? If you've done any of these things, you've actively tried to avoid or evade taxation. Most of us are not rich enough for it to be worth our while employing an army of experts. Most of us in the small business community take the view that it is less hassle to simply comply with the law, although we are usually very happy when our accountant tells us we can take advantage of a tax break that saves us money. For most of us we simply grumble and get on with it. Most of us recognise that we need to pay tax, it is the basis of a civilised soceity.

As for Mr Trump, he is perfectly entitled to take a more robust view to tax avoidance. It is perfectly legal for him to employ the finest advisers. So long as he's within the law, and I'm sure he is, then he is just doing what businessmen do, albeit on a grand scale. It is a non issue.

What is an issue though, or it certainly would be if I was an American voter (which I'm not), is the reason he was able to avoid so much tax. It seems he lost so much money and his business ventures were so unsuccessful that he generated losses so massive that he paid no tax for 18 years. Given that his unique talent is that he's a successful businessman, then how on earth can anyone consider electing him. He can't have it both ways. If he runs companies that are so extraordinarily unsuccessful that he generated no money for 18 years, then who on earth would let him near the US economy.

As I understand it, Trump was one of the early adopters of the Bank of Mum and Dad, to get set up in business. I did a quick google of Trumps bankruptcies and his companies have gone bust six times. He's even managed to lose money running casinos, a business where the odds are mathematically always stacked in your favour. When I make important decisions about doing business with people, I tend to look at their track record. If I was an American and I was casting my vote, I would not entrust my nation to a man who is a serial owner of businesses that go bust. Of course in the UK we have a different system to choose the Prime Minister. We elect one, who resigns and then get lumbered with one who is crowned by the more irrational elements of their own party. Hey Ho, isn't democracy a marvellous thing.

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