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Donald Trump's Tax Returns and the Empty Jewelry Box Scam

Alone among his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination,

Donald Trump

has refused to release any income tax returns. It's a fair question to ask "why?"

Marco Rubio

,

Ted Cruz

, and

John Kasich

have all released several years of 1040s. Unfortunately, their releases don't go past the 1040 form itself. We can't see, for example, what charities they gave to or what business expenses they might be deducting. Shame on them, since presidents and presidential campaigns have released

full, robust, and complete tax returns

going all the way back to the days of Richard Nixon.

But even more ridiculous is Trump's assertion that he cannot release his returns because they are

"under audit."

There is no legal or taxreason for this being an impediment, and there is also no reason Trump cannot release tax returns from earlier years.

I think there's one good reason he won't, among many (and yes, I'd love to see what charities he gives to, but others have written on this effectively): Trump is likely to look a little foolish at best, and like a tax evader at worst.

All you have to do is look back on the 1986 "Empty Jewelry Box" scam to see what I mean.

The Empty Jewelry Box Scam

Back in 1986 and likely for many years before, Donald Trump colluded in tax evasion with

Bulgari Jewelry Store

in New York, a high-end posh location with tony clientele right out of

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

. Here's how the scam worked:

Trump would go into the store with his wife, his girlfriend, his...whatever (to use his vernacular). He would then buy her an expensive necklace or wristwatch. Normally, such a transaction would face the New York city and state sales tax, which would be pretty high on luxury jewelry.

In an illegal attempt to evade the tax, Trump "asked" the store to instead ship the jewelry to an out of state location, where no New York sales tax could be collected. In fact, the store would merely send an empty jewelry box to the location, while Trump and his lady friends walked out the door with the jewelry that very day.

The state and city tax collectors eventually caught onto this scheme, and

Trump promptly testified

against his erstwhile tax evasion colluding partners at the jewelry store in order to save his own skin.

A pattern of trashiness

The empty box scam is just the most colorful example of Trump's history of crossing the line from legal tax avoidance to illegal tax evasion. Many other such stories can be told about his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida by local reporter

Frank Cerabino

.

The first Palm Beach story is interesting. Trump bought the property from the estate of breakfast cereal heiress MarjorieMerriweather Post. He got it for a relative bargain at $7.5 million, something he bragged about in

The Art of the Deal

. Yet he refused for years to pay local propertytaxes on the actual value of the property, $11.5 million at the time he bought it. He tried to have it both ways--buy the property for a steep discount and also pay property taxes atthat under-valuedlevel.

Try that with your town's property tax assessor sometime and see what he says.

What's in Donald Trump's tax returns?

All this begs the question: what is in Donald Trump's tax return that he is so eager to hide from the public? Is he deducting amounts paid to his own charitable foundation? Is he giving money to Planned Parenthood? Is he a major donor to the Clinton Foundation?

Without discounting all those things, I might suggest the answer is more petty--he's probably doing the Donald Trump equivalent of

deducting the value of his used underwear

donated to charity (something done on the Clintons' tax return). We found out today, for instance, that he was claiming a

$300 property tax credit

intended for the middle class for his penthouse in Trump Tower.

Like the man, Donald Trump's taxmystery is very likely smaller than it seems.

Donald Trump's Tax Returns and the Empty Jewelry Box Scam 1

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