Rich Manieri, 4/10/2019 [Archive]

Forget Trump's Tax Returns, What About Mine?

Forget Trump's Tax Returns, What About Mine?

By Rich Manieri

I don't care about President Trump's tax returns.

With the filing deadline approaching, I'm far more interested in my tax return. Because as fascinating as the contents of the president's returns might be, it's my own that give me agita.

Of course, I do realize that some Americans, most of whom are House Democrats, care deeply about Trump's tax returns.

They thought Robert Mueller had delivered them a present in the completed Russian collusion investigation. It was all wrapped up in a nice shiny package with a pretty red bow. But inside, the Democrats found only irregular underwear.

Undaunted, the members of the House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who hates Trump more than a canker, now have another object of their obsession -Trump's tax returns.

Because the president has told the Democrats to go pound sand, the Financial Services Committee gave the IRS a Wednesday deadline to hand the returns over.

On Wednesday, Trump said he won't provide six years' worth of returns for which the Democrats are asking because he's under audit. He also pointed out that he got elected with this issue hanging over his head and those who voted for him didn't seem to care. There's no reason to believe that isn't still the case.

All of this is likely to degenerate into a long, rancorous legal battle.

But that's the Democrats' problem.

In the meantime, I have to write a fat check to the IRS this year.

My father, who was a CPA, used to say that if you owe money, be thankful because it means you've had a pretty good year. That's a far better approach than my usual -- tearing my garments, followed by the first four of the five stages of grief. (I can't seem to make the jump from depression to acceptance.)

In the Bible, in Matthew (22:21) Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." That's a tough one, especially when you know that sound financial stewardship is not one of Caesar's strengths.

Still, I take my responsibilities seriously. I might have to do it but I don't have to like it.

By the way, I'd like to make the offer now to who anyone wants to see my returns. They're all yours.

In fact, my accountant put them in a smartly bound, blue folder. It all looks perfectly professional and official.Production values aside, there's nothing in there that's particularly interesting, just in case the IRS is reading this.

I didn't claim my dog as a dependent or my big screen TV as a business expense.My returns are above board and boring. Others, however, are far more creative.

How about hiring an arsonist to burn down your business and deducting the $10,000 fee paid to the arsonist? True, according to TurboTax. Or trying to deduct a tattoo as a medical expense? Also, true.

There are some unusual, legal deductions of which you might not be aware. If you haven't filed yet, consider these for next year.

If you are the captain of a whaling vessel, you are eligible for up to $10,000 in ship repairs. I hope Captain Ahab didn't waste all that time chasing Moby Dick without getting a tax break.

Under very specific circumstances, you can deduct cat food. "The IRS allowed a junkyard owner to deduct the cost of cat food as a business expense," according to CNBC. "In this case, the taxpayer asserted that the food was necessary to attract feral cats, which kept the junkyard's pests - wild rats and snakes - in check."

Exotic dancers have deducted breast augmentation surgery. Hey, it's a legitimate business expense.

And thanks to a 1962 case in which an orthodontist said playing the clarinet would correct an overbite, you might be able to deduct your kid's clarinet lessons, assuming you're willing to listen to a lot of off-key squealing while you're waiting for his teeth to straighten. Could be a long year.

But whaling is illegal (unless you're Native American), I don't own a cat or a junkyard, and I'm not willing to endure a protracted period of bad B flats.

I'll just write my check and hope Caesar appreciates it.


Copyright 2019 Rich Manieri, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. His book, "We Burn on Friday: A Memoir of My Father and Me" is available at You can reach him at

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