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Who Cares About Trump’s Taxes?

By: Nicole Donelan

A blowout report published by the New York Times this past Sunday exposed years worth of tax avoidance from Donald Trump. Between 2016 and 2017, the President only paid $750 in income taxes per year, and paid no income tax for 10 of the past 15 years, which the Times attributes to the fact that he “reported losing much more money than he made.” Trump is also the subject of a “decade-long” audit from the IRS over “the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses.”

Trump’s obfuscation of his personal finances is not new, and the revelations about his income taxes come after a years-long battle for access to his tax returns since he entered office in 2016. Many a think piece has been published already since the news broke, proclaiming Trump to be “desperate” and even the “loser in chief.” The media cares, but do voters?

For starters, Trump’s supporters certainly don’t. Voters who supported Trump for his abrasive personality and rejection of “the establishment” will agree with Trump’s claims that the report is “totally fake news.” Trump even said in 2016 that not paying taxes “makes [him] smart.” It is unlikely that Trump voters will be swayed in their steadfast support for him; rather, they will be emboldened.

It’s unclear how undecided voters are feeling at the moment, but precedence indicates that this article will have little impact on their decision. Trump is no stranger to scandal; since his inauguration, he’s been charged with allegations of Russian election meddling, impeached for collusion with Ukraine and abuse of power, and been the subject of a damning dossier. But voters by and large have not been swayed by these controversies. In April of 2019, less than 0.5% of voters identified Russia as the most important problem facing the country, which was what led Washington Post data analyst David Byler to believe that Russia was not a priority for a vast majority of voters. During the impeachment process in 2019, voters were split on whether or not Trump should be impeached, and independents were split 50/50 too. Following the removal process in the Senate (that allowed Trump to remain in office), his approval rating rose to an all-time high, and now, there’s little evidence to suggest the impeachment had a long-term impact on the 2020 election. The Steele dossier exposing alleged collusion with Russia to rig the 2016 is now similarly irrelevant.

A Pew Research study published this past August reported that the top issues for voters right now are economy (79% reported it being “very important”), healthcare (68%), Supreme Court appointments (64%), the COVID-19 outbreak (62%), and violent crime (59%). The data is clear: voters aren’t looking to the New York Times or the Washington Post to tell them “here’s why you should care” about the latest Trump scandal. They’re focused on the material problems they face every day - the money in their wallets, the disease spreading around them, the crime in their hometowns. They’re focused on Supreme Court appointments, the impacts of which could potentially last all or most of their lifetimes. Trump’s tax returns prove yet again his capacity for corruption and dishonesty, but they won’t be what resonates with voters this November.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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