Finished your taxes yet?
If you’re rich, you probably did nothing but sign what somebody else prepared, smiling with satisfaction as you looked at how little you owe or the size of your refund.
If you’re middle class, you are still in shock.
If you are a police officer, you couldn’t deduct the cost of cleaning your uniforms. If you run a small business, you are wondering what happened to all those miscellaneous deductions that made life a little bit more bearable in tax season.
And 8 million of you are writing checks to the IRS this year instead of waiting for a refund. Right now, you don’t even know the meaning of the word “refund.” Millions more are getting a much smaller refund than they have come to expect.
There goes that vacation. There goes the new refrigerator. There goes the satisfaction of paying off or paying down that loathsome credit card bill.
The cost of the “tax cut” that Donald Trump boasted about, which took effect last year so that taxpayers are just now feeling its effects, has turned out to be about $1.7 trillion. Which means that the national debt is now much more than $22 trillion. Hope you enjoyed that Happy Meal your “tax cut” bought you.
Meanwhile, the man at 1600 says he will not release his tax returns so we could see how much the “tax cut” benefited him and his businesses. He said people “don’t care.” He said he got elected without revealing them so what’s the point? He said he “can’t” release his tax returns because he is under audit and has been for 11 years. (The IRS commissioner said, well, yes he could release his returns as every president since Richard Nixon has done to assure taxpayers of no conflicts of interest.)
There is great speculation, among those who know about these things, that Trump is embarrassed that over the years he has contributed next to nothing to charity, is not worth the $10 billion he says he is and took advantage of so many loopholes he didn’t pay as much as many middle-class Americans.
Every year we all pay taxes (and the overwhelming majority of us are honest about what we owe) because we love this country. People go into debt to pay their taxes. People take second jobs to pay their taxes. People forgo vacations and meals out and the best cuts of meat to pay their taxes.
Nobody thanks us but we get satisfaction knowing we did our duty. (Which is why paying $20 billion or $30 billion on a wall at the southern border that the experts say won’t work is so problematic.) Everybody knows Trump wants the wall (and will fire anyone he can who tells him no) because he wants it to be called Trump Wall.
Politico recently revealed that during a tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia, Trump was puzzled that the nation’s first president didn’t name Mount Vernon after himself. “You’ve got to put your name on it or nobody remembers you,” he said. According to the report, Trump also said he never read a presidential biography and has no plans to do so.
Not to worry, Mr. Trump. There will be plenty of biographies about you. And we will remember you, Mr. Trump, if for nothing else than that famous quote of yours: “Only stupid people pay taxes.”
Thank goodness for “stupid” (patriotic) people.
Ann McFeatters is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.