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Accounting News Roundup: Trump’s Tax Returns; Grant Thornton Partners; Beer Taxes | 03.18.16

Trump's Tax Returns
Clown prince Donald Trump has not released his income tax returns. He says that they are under audit and that he won't release them until the IRS is done poking around. Sure, okay, fine. However, some people say that delaying too long could spell trouble:

At the early March debates in Detroit and Coral Gables, Trump faced no questions whatsoever about why he’s defying decades of standard protocol. This interlude won’t last. The audit excuse is just that—an excuse. Any taxpayer can release returns whether he or she is under audit or not. And if he doesn’t, suspicions will grow that Trump is really hiding something. As for Trump, when challenged on his delay in the Houston debate on February 25, the mogul replied, “I will make a determination over the next couple of months.” On March 3, Romney, among complaints about Trump, turned to a tactic that was used effectively on him, castigated the current GOP frontrunner for hiding a “bombshell” in his unseen filings. In a CNN interview, Trump strongly suggested that his returns will bolster his claims of “massive” wealth. “There’s no bombshell,” he declared, “except that I pay a lot of taxes and the government wastes the money.”

I don't know if people have noticed or not, but Trump has been "defying decades of standard protocol" this entire campaign. To suggest that his defiance on this one thing — TAX RETURNS! — is where he risks losing support is silly.

Releasing the returns will probably go one of two ways: 1) Trump releases his tax returns and there's nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of extremely large numbers. He boasts that it further supports the notion that he's a very smart, very successful, very smart and very successful businessman. People will point out repeatedly that his tax returns are in fact, not a good indication of his wealth or his business acumen. Trump will continue to claim the opposite regardless of evidence to the contrary. 2) He releases the returns and they're underwhelming, showing far less income for a person saying that they will be "very good," that he really doesn't give that much to charity, etc. He'll claim that tax returns aren't a good indication of his success as a businessman; he'll continue to face questions and evidence that suggest shady dealings. He won't have answers. The third scenario of course is \where he doesn't release the tax returns and people keep talking about how he won't release them and nothing really happens. That seems most likely to me because that will cause the circus to go on, and it just so happens that the clown is also the ringmaster.

In other Trump tax news, Richard Rubin has an excellent report on DJT's use of conservation easements to get a $39.1 million deduction in 2005.

Grant Thornton Partners
It's been pretty quiet on the Purple Rose of Chicago beat lately, however, there was a press release yesterday announcing that GT Philadelphia admitted two new partners and a managing director.

Grant Thornton LLP admitted Melissa Beaumont and Michael Pramberger as Audit partners in the firm’s Philadelphia office, effective Jan. 1. In addition to these promotions, Ann Marie Reyher has joined the firm as a managing director in the firm’s Private Wealth Services practice, based in Philadelphia.

The timing is a little strange since we typically see the GT partner announcements in the summer, but whatever. Congratulations are in order.

How High Are Beer Taxes in Your State? [Tax Foundation]
Here in Colorado we pay 8 cents per gallon in beer excise tax, one of the lowest rates in the nation. That compares to the Bible Belt where six of the highest rates in the country are located, topped by Tennessee where a $1.29 tax is levied on every gallon. Sin taxes, indeed.

Previously, on Going Concern…
Megan Lewczyk wrote about accountants and cyber extortion. And in Open Items, someone with a MST has a question about salaries in NYC.

In other news:

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Image: @realDonaldTrump