On May 8, 2019, some of US President Donald Trump’s tax information was disclosed to the public. This comes after a long wait and a great deal of controversy.
Trump’s failure to disclose his tax information in a timely manner has become a major political issue in America and abroad. There remain many problems with the current taxation system, and many are wondering if the blockchain can provide a solution.
According to the tax information obtained by The New York Times, Trump reported deep losses from 1985 to 1994. In addition, he paid no income taxes in eight of those ten years. The media outlet refers to the printouts from Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts for that period.
A lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, claimed that the information presented in I.R.S. transcripts was horribly inaccurate and could not be used to get a clear picture of someone’s returns. Meanwhile, answering the criticism, Mr. Trump said that he had shown losses for tax purposes, using accounting loopholes available at that time:
Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered “tax shelter,” ……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
These findings coupled with the recent spat between the Trump administration and Congress over the tax disclosure reveal major deficiencies of the existing tax system. Being obscure and vulnerable to data manipulations, it allows for all sorts of abuses and misinterpretations.
Furthermore, a lack of transparency and immutable recording generate a plethora of other problems.
How Blockchain Technology Can Help
Recording of financial transaction data on a blockchain can help alleviate a lot of the existing issues. The core attributes of this technology are designed to provide traceability and transparency.
Furthermore, once a transaction is recorded on a blockchain, it cannot be altered. Each transaction is timestamped and can be made to disclose the full amounts of transactions at any point in the future. Moreover, no one can alter or tamper data on blockchain once it is entered, which makes creative accounting and tax manipulations less likely.
While blockchain technology did not exist in the 20th century, it can now be used to amend the current US taxation system. There are multiple ways to use the blockchain to remedy many of the issues involved with the Trump tax debacle.
For example, a public blockchain could record all taxpayer information and taxes paid. Being public, anyone who wanted to view anyone else’s tax information would be able to do so.
While this would increase transparency, it would also decrease privacy. Thus a private or semi-private blockchain could be created wherein only the IRS or other relevant govenrmental agencies have access.
In such a case, the tax information of politicians and others in the public eye could easily be accessed by authorized agencies. It could then be disclosed to the public as well as to relevant judicial, legislative, or executive bodies.
Do you think integrating blockchain technology into the US taxation system could remedy the problems we’ve seen with the Trump tax controversy?