Trump Just Can't Understand What's So Bad About Massive Tax Fraud
If you're normal, you hopefully spent the holiday weekend enjoying friends and family and food and the like. If you're Donald Trump, you spent it whining about being persecuted by law enforcement in New York.
And if you're some Trump-loving idiots in Sarasota, Florida, you wasted your holiday listening to that whining:
Trump told a crowd in Sarasota, Florida, on Saturday night that "every company" does "fringe benefits," but he mocked prosecutors for pursuing the charges, saying it is "reminiscent of a communist dictatorship targeting your political opponents." The comments mark the former President's most substantial yet on the charges after they were unsealed last week in the first criminal case against his namesake company.
"Never before has New York City and their prosecutors or perhaps any prosecutors criminally charged a company or a person for fringe benefits," Trump said. "Fringe benefits. Murders, OK; human trafficking, no problem. But fringe benefits, you can't do that."
Yes, that's right, "fringe benefits," that's what that indictment is about. And nothing more.
"They go after good hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car. Company car. You didn't pay tax on the car, or a company apartment, you used an apartment because you need an apartment, because you have to travel too far where your house is, didn't pay tax, or education for your grandchildren," Trump said. "I don't even know. Do you have to, does anybody know the answer to that stuff? OK? But they indict people for that."
"But they indict people for that. But for murder, and for selling massive amounts of the worst drugs in the world that kill people left and right, that's OK. Think of it, think of how unfair it is," he said.
We all remember when the state of New York passed the Selling Massive Amounts Of The Worst Drugs In The World That Kill People Left And Right Legalization Act. It freed up a lot of resources to persecute Donald Trump.
So this is all very sad. But also it's one of those things that makes us wonder where Trump supporters' brains have gone.
Contrary to how we like to make fun of them as buck-toothed Deliverance extras, many Trump supporters are people of means, who have run companies and been executives in companies, and presumably should know something about how salaries and benefits packages work.
Do they really buy Trump's whining about being persecuted, because his CFO allegedly designed a scheme to pay himself and others with pre-tax fringe benefits, and proceeded to keep two conflicting sets of books in furtherance of that scheme? We pointed this out in our post the other day, but the most hilarious paragraph of the whole indictment where it explains how the Trump Organization allegedly kept one "official" set of books they used when they filed taxes, and then kept another secret set, where they kept track of all the untaxed goodies they were giving people, deducting all that from their "official" salaries. From the indictment:
[F]or certain years, the Trump Organization maintained internal spreadsheets that tracked the amounts it paid for Weisselberg's rent, utility, and garage expenses. Simultaneously, the Trump Organization reduced the amount of direct compensation that Weisselberg received in the form of checks or direct deposits to account for the indirect compensation that he received in the form of payments of rent, utility bills and garage expenses. The indirect compensation was not included on Weisselberg's W-2 forms or otherwise reported to federal, state, or local tax authorities, and no income taxes were withheld by the corporate defendants in connection with the indirect compensation.
Our immediate reaction to that the other day was "LOL fuck," and it still is "LOL fuck."
Again, for idiots: Lots of salary packages have goodies in them. Trump is right that it's totally normal. They have to be declared as income. This is what Don Jr. and Eric seemed to forget when they went on Fox News to whine, and what Daddy Donald seems to be forgetting.
But are Trump's supporters really unaware of this? Or is it just OK because whatever Trump does is fine?
Just Security has a good piece explaining just how yoooge this case really is, and how far from being simply about "fringe benefits," this shit is just massive fraud. You know, allegedly. They provide this analogy:
Suppose that your employer pays you monthly, through automatically deposited paychecks that end up being included on your annual W-2. But suppose that each month you could stop by the front office, request an envelope full of cash in unmarked bills, and have your W-2 reduced accordingly. So your true income would be the same as if you hadn't stopped by, but you'd be reporting less salary. If your employer kept careful records of all the cash it gave you, and also still deducted it all, we would basically have this case.
It sounds like Trump and Weisselberg were operating under the assumption that they'd never get caught. And as we've said, it's possibly true they never would have, had Trump not decided to waddle down that escalator in 2015 to destroy the world. But he did. And New York prosecutors are paying attention.
C'est la fucking vie.
[CNN / Just Security]
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