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Just Write This One Off

Donald Trump wrote off a loss.

That’s what you’re supposed to do.

I can’t stand Donald Trump, and his candidacy sickens me. But what part of this breathlessly-reported story is surprising? Yes, the American tax code lets you write off losses. Wouldn’t it be pretty terrible if you lost money for five years and then got taxed on the first profit you finally made in year six?

But let’s stick our heads in the financial sand and pretend that we’re shocked that Donald Trump is guilty of following the tax laws too carefully and using write-offs in much the same way as other people.

So the hell what? Is this invented crime nearly as good a reason to vote against Trump as, let’s see, every other thing about him?

Well he wants ideological tests for brown immigrants. But I can live with that. He says hateful things about veterans and families of those who have lost loved ones in war. But that goes with the territory. He knows absolutely nothing about foreign affairs and has wildly troubling opinions about Putin and other foreign leaders. But let’s not focus on the negatives. He refuses to learn the most basic elements about what it takes to do the job he’s running for. He lies habitually. He is a renown conman. He is infamous for not paying his bills, and stiffing small business owners and independent contractors. His foundation is run like his university and he has enough shady dealins to make Boss Tweed think he might be going a bit far. He questioned the ruling of a federal judge because of his heritage. He’s against basic press freedoms. He mimics people with physical disabilites. He has disgusting views on issues of race and gender. His candidacy has earned the enthusiastic backing of white supremacist groups. He got five deferments but suggested that soldiers who get PTSD just can’t “handle it.” He was the leader of the birther movement and kept up that ridiculous lie for half a decade (Think about. Donald Trump gave birth a bad name). He has publicly humiliated our country abroad. And he possesses none of the qualities of intellect or temperament required to be president of the Trump Tower co-op board, much less president of the United States. And that’s all fine with me. But his writing off a loss on his taxes seems to have cross a line…and remind me again what he said about Rosie O’Donnell.

If you believe a 1995 write-off is a big deal compared to all the rest of Trump’s issues, then you’re gonna be shocked to learn that he doesn’t really have a secret plan to defeat ISIS in a matter of a few weeks.

Look, I get it. There are only a few swing states that matter. And everyone is focused on underemployed white males who — if lured into the Hillary column — could turn this election in something that makes Trump’s Taj Mahal look like a relative success on Donald’s resumé.

And a story about a guy who doesn’t pay his fair share to Uncle Sam just might do the trick.

But there’s no need to make stuff up. We don’t need a Hollywood film version of this story when the documentary is scary enough. There’s no need to foment voter anger with half-truths or faux-rage. We can stick with the man’s actual affronts to humanity, which strike with more regularity than his after-hours tweets. We don’t need to make little nothings seem like actual big deals. Doing so drags us all into his omnipresent reality show; and if we end up there, we’re writing off a lot more than a poorly run casino in Atlantic City.

The NYT broke the story, but also summed it up in a subsequent piece.

It is among the least controversial parts of the federal tax code, almost as old as the income tax itself: A business, big or small, can escape taxation if it lost money in a previous year, a rule that helps businesses weather tough economic times, and hopefully thrive again.

You know what is controversial? Every other thing about Trump.

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I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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