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Trump's Top Ten Tax Tricks

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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns, saying "It's none of your business" and "there's nothing to learn." Of course, there is something to learn from the recent tax returns of a supposed billionaire who seeks to gain the trust of American voters. If we had access to Trump's returns we'd learn Donald's top ten tax tricks.

In 2011, when Trump was leading the "birther" movement, he promised to release his tax returns if President Obama showed his long-from birth certificate; Obama did but Donald backed off. Earlier, Trump had released his tax returns to obtain casino licenses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In July of 2015, and on May 17th, he complied with the Federal Election Commission requirements and released a financial disclosure report, claiming it showed assets "in excess of 10 billion dollars." But not his returns.

Donald turned reticent because he doesn't want to give away his top ten tax tricks.

10. Don't make charitable donations: A Federal tax return is more detailed than the FEC financial disclosure report because the return reveals how much you gave to charity. In 2011, Mitt Romney's return showed that he gave about $2.3 million to charity. (Romney has chided Trump for not releasing his tax returns suggesting, "we can only assume it's a bombshell of unusual size.")

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The Washington Post reported that despite Trump's claims that he had given $102 million to charity in the past five years, their investigation found that none of these gifts involved money, usually free rounds of golf.

In 2008, Barack Obama's tax returns showed his donations to Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Trump is a Presbyterian who attends Manhattan's Marble Collegiate church. His tax returns would show if he donated to the Presbyterians.

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9. Pay no taxes: Trump boasts, "I pay as little as possible [in taxes]."

Every year the IRS posts the aggregate figures on the richest 400 returns: income greater than $100 million; average tax rate 22.89 percent. In 2011, Mitt Romney had a tax rate of 14.1 percent. In 2014, Bill and Hillary Clinton's rate was 35.7 Percent.

8. Employ tax loopholes. Trump boasts, "I use every single [tax trick]."

Writing in "The Atlantic" David Graham observed, "Trump has a long history of questionable finances."

7. Move money offshore. Trump denies having a Swiss or offshore bank account. Nonetheless,

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6. Manufacture goods overseas. Trump pushes products made in the US. However the Washington Post reported that Trump's clothing line is made in "Bangladesh, China, Honduras, and other low wage countries."

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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