Income tax

The Lessons Americans Refuse To Learn From Trump's Tax Returns

Major-party politicians avoid tax simplification almost as aggressively as the rich avoid taxation, argue the Reason Roundtable panelists.


Asked about The New York Times' novella-length article analyzing his last 18 years of federal income tax returns, President Donald Trump said: "It's fake news. It's totally fake news. Made up, fake."

That hasn't stopped people from discussing Trump's inventive accounting, to a chorus of sputtered outrage by Trump's legion of critics, the vast majority of whom miss a simple point: The tax code is a big, complicated mess because major-party politicians—including those Republicans who insincerely promise to fit the entire form "on a postcard"—like it just fine that way, and voters do not punish them for perennially exacerbating the exasperating status quo.

So argue Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward on this week's Reason Roundtable podcast. The gang also previews tomorrow night's presidential debate (including those unfairly excluded from it), grapples with the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, and makes a number of editorially questionable sound effects.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: "Sentinel" by Kai Engel.

Relevant links from the show:

"Trump's Tiny Tax Bill," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Libertarian Party Candidate Jo Jorgensen: Don't Waste Your Vote on Trump or Biden," by Nick Gillespie

"Congress Continues to Spend Delusional Amounts of Money," by Veronique de Rugy

"On Health Care, the 2020 Presidential Race Pits Bad Ideas Against Bad Faith," by Peter Suderman

"Amy Coney Barrett Condemns Purdue University's 'Fundamentally Unfair' Adjudication of Sexual Assault Claims," by Jacob Sullum

"It's Official: Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court," by Billy Binion

"Amy Coney Barrett and the Problem of Conservative Judicial Deference," by Damon Root

"Amy Coney Barrett Thinks the Second Amendment Prohibits Blanket Bans on Gun Possession by People With Felony Records," by Jacob Sullum

"Amy Coney Barrett Demolishes the Qualified Immunity Claim of a Detective Accused of Framing a Man for Murder," by Jacob Sullum

"Partisan Poppycock Does Not Trump the Constitution on SCOTUS Picks," by Jacob Sullum

"Antebellum Is Empty Social Commentary Disguised as a Horror Movie," by Peter Suderman

What are we consuming this week?

Matt Welch

Katherine Mangu-Ward

Peter Suderman