Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Will Trump’s Tax Records Be The Next Pentagon Papers?

How abnormal are Swedes, and other people in the Nordic region, in paying tax? A general stereotype for Europe holds some truth: unlike tax-shy southern Europeans, those in the far north pay up readily to get comprehensive, efficient government services—plus societies with unusually equitable income distribution. In Sweden, even after years of slashing high taxes (an inheritance tax went in 2005, another for wealth disappeared in 2007, some taxes on residential property went the next year, corporate tax is low at 22%), the share of GDP claimed by the state remains high. The OECD reckons its government spent over 51% of GDP in 2014. Income tax rates, at least for the well-off, can be as high as 57%. And the Swedes comply. Sociologists, economists and others have long debated this readiness to cough up for the common good. Lutheran beliefs about the importance of supporting the whole community might be a factor. A strong sense of cultural homogeneity for the “folk” matters (now some worry this will be undermined by too much immigration). Maybe the generations spent huddling together to survive long, dark winters has played a role.
This week brought a new puzzle, however, with evidence that some Swedes are deliberately overpaying their taxes.

Peter Dreier (Occidental College),Will Trump’s Tax Records Be the Next Pentagon Papers?:
Marches, lawsuits, and demands from members of Congress can keep the issue in the public eye but they may not be enough to actually produce Trump’s tax documents. Perhaps the only way we’ll ever see his returns is if a courageous IRS employee, or one of Trump’s own lawyers or accountants, leaks them to the media, just as Daniel Ellsberg helped to bring down Richard Nixon by releasing the secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971