How does the $750 tax man spend $70,000 on that hair?
The bombshell story from The New York Times on Donald Trump’s taxes is filled with appalling revelations about tax avoidance, likely tax fraud, dodgy deductions, failed businesses, vast write-offs, infusions of questionable foreign funds, and much, much more. But the item that most struck me was the report of how much he spent on his hair.
Many disclosures in the story are much worse, of course, including the report that Trump paid only $750 in income taxes in both 2016 and 2017. As the Washington Post story about the Times investigation put it:
The average middle-class American household paid approximately three times as much in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 as President Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul with properties and developments all over the world. … In 2016, households in the middle 20 percent of the U.S. income distribution paid an average of $2,200 in federal income taxes.
“His income tax burden is certainly much lower than the average taxpayer,” said Brian Galle, a law professor and tax expert at Georgetown Law. “He’s likely paying less than the shoeshine guy who works in the foyer of the Trump Tower.”
There’s plenty more eye-opening and detailed reporting in the Times story on Trump’s decades-long practice of tax avoidance. In the 15 years before he became president, Trump paid zero in income taxes for 10 of those years. The whole investigation quickly moves into “holy shit” territory. But the hair styling deduction for seventy grand? Considering what Trump’s hair looks like? As the Times story put it:
Mr. Trump has written off as business expenses costs — including fuel and meals — associated with his aircraft, used to shuttle him among his various homes and properties. Likewise the cost of haircuts, including the more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during “The Apprentice.” Together, nine Trump entities have written off at least $95,464 paid to a favorite hair and makeup artist of Ivanka Trump.
I will concede that someone making regular TV appearances needs a professional stylist. The wash-and-go approach that many of us were forced to use during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown didn’t leave us with many styling options. Those who tried home hair coloring and home haircuts, for ourselves or for other family members, often had, shall we say, mixed results.
But wasn’t there a producer around during the taping of The Apprentice to say that Trump’s hair results weren’t particularly stylish or flattering, or even looked human? If the blond-orange mane that lives on his head was the best he could do for $70K, maybe Trump is the one who was defrauded.
The Times story is overwhelming in its reporting on Trump’s dishonesty; not only Trump, but his entire organization. There are reasons that #TrumpTaxReturns, #TrumpCrimeFamily, and #TrumpIsBroke are trending on Twitter.
But back to the Trumpian mane. Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, who has taken ribbing over the years for her own tresses, wonders about the whole thing.
I have no idea whether this information, published five weeks before the election, will turn voters away from this president. I stopped trying to read the taste and tolerance of the American electorate after Trump mocked a disabled reporter and denigrated Mexicans and bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and still sailed to victory in 2016.
But I do know this. When my husband and I sit down to do our taxes, we sweat every deduction like an IRS auditor is peering over our shoulders as we calculate. Did we get a receipt from that Salvation Army donation? Does $48 hospital parking count as a medical expense? Do we have the tax ID for that summer camp that might be tax deductible under the Child and Dependent Care Credit? I bet most Americans can relate.
It never occurred to me that I could deduct my hair care. Now, I also never had my own reality TV show. Or a presidential campaign. So maybe my hair never counted as a work-related expense.
Maybe $70,000 is chump change (or should that be Trump change?) in the grand scheme of things when someone as dishonest as Donald Trump is ripping off taxpayers. But it’s something that rings true.
It’s hardly the most damning detail in the New York Times investigation. But it’s another piece of overwhelming evidence that the man running this country lives and works by his own dubious rules, even as he crows on and on about law and order.
Appearance isn’t everything. No matter how much money you spend (or lose) trying to make it so.
I’m sure this reporting from The New York Times won’t change the minds of the Trumpanistas in his die-hard base. So it’s up to the rest of us to vote in overwhelming numbers to kick him and his tax-avoiding family out of the White House.
Please, America, send this grifter — and his hair — packing on Nov. 3. And tell him to take his hair spray with him.