Do voters care about Trump taxes?

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Donald Trump has dismissed the New York Times report as “fake news”

The revelations about President Donald Trump’s taxes have been described as a jolt to the US election campaign that could reshape the race.

But what do voters think?

We asked members of our voters’ panel for their views.

Tyrone Mansfield, 54, from El Paso, Texas

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Tyrone Mansfield calls the news unsurprising

Mr Mansfield is a federal public defence lawyer who calls himself a “social Democrat like in Europe”. He is reluctantly voting for Biden this year and reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I wish I could say I’m surprised, which I’m not. I expected nothing but the revelations that he has bilked the system again, that he has played the system again. And he’s proud of it, and very brash.

“I think it will have zero effect on a nation that’s already asleep on these issues. And that’s a pity. So lesson learned is that we pay taxes and the super rich don’t have to. The rich and powerful have different rules. Different laws apply to them as to middle class or poor people, so they have special protections.

“It’s a kind of economic socialism for the rich and the same ol’, same ol’ for us. So we’re getting bilked. We’re being honest, we’re filing our taxes and paying our fair share, but some people don’t have to apparently.”

Mr Mansfield paid just under $25,000 in federal income taxes last year.

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“I find it outrageous,” says James Clark

James D Clark, 68, from Fairfax, Virginia

James Clark is a Republican planning to vote for Biden in November. I “would never dream of voting for Trump”, says the semi-retired real estate investor and former Chief Tax Counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee.

“I find it outrageous and I speak as someone who taught tax policy at Georgetown University in the mid-1990s as an adjunct professor. There are several goals in any tax system. One is vertical equity. One is horizontal equity. Richer people should be paying more than poor people and similarly situated people should be paying about the same. And you can’t call $750 paid by our current president as equitable in any sense compared to his peers.”

“From the period of 2000 to 2015, there were apparently 10 years where he paid no tax. I find that astounding, particularly in light of President Trump’s insistence, during the campaign in 2016 and afterward, about his abilities as a businessman and his ability to make money. He’s obviously losing money.

“The top 1% pay a lot in tax in terms of dollars. But you have to look at it two ways – the total dollars and also the percent of their income. A lot of what the rich are paying is capital gains taxes and a lot of that is an inflationary game.”

Clark paid just over $37,000 in federal income tax last year.

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Mrs Smith suspects “fake” news

Paula Smith, 55, from West Warwick, Rhode Island

Mrs Smith is a product manager who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to do so again this year.

“I feel like it was put out there just to provide negative press to Donald Trump right before the election. I find it hard to believe that somebody could gain his tax information and I feel it’s almost illegally obtained, if it’s not fake. I don’t know how people can gather that information without consent. I don’t think my tax information is out there for people to look at.”

Mrs Smith paid $4,000 in federal income taxes last year.

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“Everybody does it,” says Rom Solene

Rom Solene, 59, from Phoenix, Arizona

Mr Solene is a registered Republican – although he identifies as a libertarian – who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to do so again.

“I look at it from the perspective of everything else going on and I personally view it as a hit piece, simply because the New York Times has not mentioned squat about Hunter Biden’s payments from the Ukraine, but they continue hammering away at Trump,” he says referring to Joe Biden’s son’s former job at a Ukrainian energy firm.

“My other take on it is that the information didn’t discuss or claim anything illegal that was done. It’s mostly that he’s paid very little taxes and there’s nothing illegal about that.

“The fact that he’s sitting in the White House doesn’t change the equation. I was in business for myself for many years and I would do the same thing. Everybody does.

“The article didn’t claim he did anything wrong. It was just he paid very little in taxes. Good for him.”

Mr Solene, a former business owner, paid between 35% and 38% in federal and state income taxes last year.

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Mrs Lusk says it’s “bad” that Trump paid so little, but says she can look past that

Deanna Lusk, 37, from Derby, Kansas

Mrs Lusk is a legal assistant who voted Trump in 2016 and is supporting his re-election.

“Obviously, yeah it’s probably true. As a US businessman, you’re going to have a lot of losses, you’re going to have gains and that determines how much tax you actually owe, and if he legally pays what he owes, then I don’t see an issue with it at all.

“But, as far as how he was able to manipulate it, like Ivanka doing ‘consulting.’ I think that they’re going to investigate that a little deeper. If that checks out, then I don’t have any issue with it.

“You have to look at it from a business perspective. I’m sure there’s hundreds and thousands of businessmen just like him. But you have to look at the perspective that he’s hiring people. If he’s hiring someone, he’s paying them and he’s got them on payroll, then isn’t he supporting their family? And they’re paying taxes on his income basically.

“So you have to look at how many families he has supported through his business. Look, it’s really bad that he’s only paid that much, but for people who own businesses, that’s probably a normal thing and maybe it should change. Maybe we should get to a fairer tax act, which I supported when former congressman Paul Ryan brought that to the table a long time ago.”

Deanna was in the 13-16% bracket for federal income taxes this year.

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