Trump once claimed to be the ‘king of the tax code’ – but now pleads ignorance ahead of New York case

‘Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?’

Chantal da Silva
Wednesday 07 July 2021 20:33
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<p> Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally on 3 July, 2021 in Sarasota, Florida. Mr Trump appeared to feign ignorance about tax law during the rally.</p>

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally on 3 July, 2021 in Sarasota, Florida. Mr Trump appeared to feign ignorance about tax law during the rally.

In the lead-up to the 2016 US election, then-candidate Donald Trump claimed to be the “king of the tax code”.

“I know every form of tax – believe me – from the [value-added taxes] to the fair tax to – every single form of tax,” he once said back in August 2015, according to The Washington Post.

Around the same time that summer, he said: “Look, nobody knows the tax code better than I do. OK? I know it better. I’m the king of the tax code.”

Less than a year later, in March 2016, he would once again claim that he knew “more about taxes than any human being that God ever created”.

Fast-forward several years, and the now-former president, whose company, the Trump Organization, is facing charges in a criminal tax case, claims to be clueless when it comes to certain tax rules.

Speaking at a rally on Saturday in Sarasota, Florida, Mr Trump said: “They go after good, hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car.”

“You didn’t pay tax on the car or a company apartment. You used an apartment, because you need an apartment, because you have to travel too far where your house is. You didn’t pay tax. Or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know,” he continued. “Do you have to? Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?”

Some saw the former president’s comments as a possible admission of sorts, with the company and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, facing a host of tax-related crimes following a years-long probe by New York prosecutors.

However, as The Washington Post notes, it could also be possible that Trump could be looking to mount a defence by claiming ignorance about US tax law, particularly if he himself ever faces charges in the ongoing investigation.

If his company’s defence team does try to argue that any tax violations made were mistakes, it is possible that Mr Trump’s past comments could come back to haunt him.

Speaking with CNN in an interview last week, Mr Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen said he believed “every single thing, whether it was the acquisition of paper clips, light bulbs, furniture, mattresses, you name it ... would have Donald’s signature on it or his initial”.

The former Trump attorney said he believed the former president would have likely been aware of the existence of the tax scheme the Trump Organization is accused of having carried out.

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