In the latest controversy surrounding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the New York Times reportedly published Trump’s tax documents without his permission. The story that ran concluded that Trump declared $916 million in losses in 1995. This amount is large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over a span of 18 years.
While Trump has obviously threatened legal action against the media outlet, legal experts are saying that there isno clear-cut criminal case against the newspaper. For one, it is not clear who leaked the information. The Times claims it received the documents anonymously in the mail. If this source was accurate, the Times should be protected on First Amendment grounds, since they did nothing illegal to obtain the information. Being a media outlet, the Times has a defense in that its job is to report on matters of public concern.
Trump has so far been the only presidential candidate that has refused to turn over his tax records. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has stated that Trump refuses to turn over his taxes because he has paid none. It is reported that he has stated “That just makes me smart.” The Times presented the leaked documents to Jack Mitnick, who was Trump’s accountant for over 30 years. Now retired, he has verified that the documents appear to be authentic copies of portions of Trump’s returns.
Consequences of Tax Evasion in California
Tax evasion is considered a white collar crime, even if it seems as though many corporate conglomerates seem to get away with it. Tax evasion in California is a serious crime subject to serious penalties.
Under California Revenue and Taxation Code §19706, it is illegal for any person or employee of a corporation to: knowingly fail to file any tax return or falsify information to evade taxes, or to willfully and intentionally make false statements on a tax return. Underpaying taxes, which is still considered tax evasion also includes but is not limited to:
- Not reporting all income earned;
- Failing to file a tax return;
- Lying or making false statements on a return;
- Claiming to be a resident of another state to avoid California taxes.
Violation of the California tax code is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $20,000. Continue reading