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不纳税,就别想当总统

更新时间:2016-10-9 10:43:51 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The White House Rule: No Tax Returns, No Job
不纳税,就别想当总统

As ethics counsel to the current president and his predecessor, we scrutinized their tax returns before they were released every year. We also worked with our colleagues to review many tax returns of presidential nominees for cabinet and other positions. Based on the few pages of Donald J. Trump’s 1995 tax returns that have become public, we have come to the conclusion that no one in his position would have been nominated, much less confirmed by the Senate, during either of the administrations we served. The same is true of any modern administration of a president from either party.

作为现任总统及其前任的道德问题法务顾问,我们每年都会在他们的纳税申报表被公布前审查这些表格。我们还会和一些同事合作,审查总统提名的内阁成员人选以及其他人选的许多份纳税申报表。针对已获公开的唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)的那薄薄几页1995年申报表,我们得出的结论是:在我们为这两位总统领导的政府服务期间,任何一个处于他这种境地的人都不会获得提名,更不要说在参议院得到通过了。这个结论也适用于不论是由出身于共和党还是民主党的总统所领导的任何一届现代政府。

If a presidential candidate cannot meet that standard, then we question his qualifications for the highest office in the land.

如果一名总统候选人不能达到这个标准,我们就要质疑他担任美国最高领导人的资格。

In both the Bush and Obama administrations, a bad attitude about paying taxes was a deal killer. Both of us saw instances of nominations that were doomed by the arguably legal but unsavory use of tax loopholes, as well as by the failure to pay Social Security taxes, the taking of excessive deductions for home offices or the sidestepping of sales taxes on out-of-state purchases. Explaining to the Senate and to the American people how a billionaire could have a $916 million “loss carry-forward” that potentially allowed him to not pay taxes for over a decade, perhaps for as long as 18 years, would have been far too difficult for the White House when many hard-working Americans turn a third or more of their earnings over to the government.

不论是在布什政府还是奥巴马政府中,不端正的纳税态度都足以扼杀一个人的前途。我们俩都见过,因为虽说合乎法律但却令人厌恶地钻税法空子,未缴纳社会保障税,用过多的在家工作费用抵税,或者避开外州采购消费税,而让提名成为泡影的例子。在许多辛勤工作的美国人把三分之一甚至更多收入上交给政府之际,白宫真的难以向参议院及公众解释,一个亿万富豪怎么会申报9.16亿美元的“亏损扣抵”——这有可能让他得以在10年以上,甚或18年的时间里不必纳税。

Any nominee who had told either of us that he had a “fiduciary responsibility” as a businessman or to his family to pay as little tax as possible, as Mr. Trump put it, would have been told to stop wasting the president’s time. People who believe they have a legal duty to put self-interest before the public interest don’t belong in public service. Besides, these are personal tax returns we are talking about. There is no such thing as a “fiduciary duty” as a businessman to oneself. That, as we’ve said before, is called greed.

任何一个被提名人如果像特朗普那样告诉我们俩当中的任何一个,他作为商人或者对家庭负有尽可能少纳税的“忠慎义务”,都会被告知别再浪费总统的时间了。一个人如果自认为具有把个人利益置于公共利益之上的法律义务,那他根本就不适于担任公职。再说了,我们谈论的是个人的纳税申报表。根本就不存在商人对自己的“忠慎义务”之类的东西。就像我们以前说过的,那是贪婪。

There is also no fiduciary duty to one’s family to minimize taxes by taking advantage of loopholes. Quite to the contrary, many of us want to set an example that teaches our children the responsibilities as well as the enormous benefits of being an American.

一个人对其家庭也并不负有通过钻法律空子尽可能少纳税的忠慎义务。恰恰相反,我们许多人都想要以身作则地教导我们的子女,身为一个美国人负有哪些责任,享有多么巨大的利益。

Even in large public companies, the argument that there is a fiduciary duty to shareholders to structure deals to minimize taxes is false. The law does not require corporate officers and directors to avoid taxes, much less to aggressively take advantage of strategies to eliminate them for years to come.

即便在大型上市公司里,对股东负有通过设计交易结构尽量减少税负的忠慎义务这一说法也是站不住脚的。法律并未要求企业的高管和董事们避税,更别说积极利用税法漏洞完全避开未来若干年的纳税义务了。

Some corporate directors and chief executives make this bogus fiduciary duty argument to justify selfish decisions to use loopholes, such as the infamous “tax inversion” tactic of moving a corporate headquarters to Ireland or some other tax haven, sending revenue and jobs out of the United States. We now know that when Mr. Trump complains about such legal but unpatriotic tax- avoidance tactics, he in effect is complaining about himself.

一些企业的董事和首席执行官会把这种虚假的忠慎义务当成幌子,为其钻空子的自私决定辩护——他们有时会使用臭名昭著的“税收倒置”的法子,把企业总部迁往爱尔兰或者别的避税天堂,致使收入和工作岗位流出美国。我们现在知道了,当特朗普对这类合法但不能体现爱国精神的避税手段抱怨连连的时候,实际上是在抱怨他自己。

The final deal killer here is Mr. Trump’s objection to the release of even the limited information that has come out, and his refusal to disclose more. At the White House we asked nominees for Senate-confirmed positions to sign a waiver so we could get tax information from the I.R.S., and we also asked nominees to be ready to provide their tax returns to the Senate upon request. Several of the committees most important to national security and the economy — such as the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Finance — routinely insist on receiving tax returns. Neither of us can recall a single nominee who refused, and with good reason. If the White House were to so much as delay in disclosing the tax returns of a nominee, much less tell the Senate that a nominee did not want to disclose them, the nomination would be dead on arrival.

特朗普甚至不愿公布已被披露出来的有限信息,而且拒绝公布更多信息,这是扼杀仕途的大杀器。在白宫,我们曾让需经参议院批准的一些职位的被提名人签署弃权书,这样一来我们就能从美国国税局(IRS)处获得他们的纳税信息;我们还让被提名人做好一旦收到要求便将纳税申报表提交给参议院的准备。对国家安全和经济而言最重要的几个委员会——比如军事委员会(Armed Services Committee)和财政委员会(Finance Committee)——通常坚持要求收到纳税申报表。在我们俩的记忆中,从没有任何一个被提名人以说得通的理由拒绝提交。如果白宫如此这般地拖延公布某个被提名人的纳税申报表的时间——更别说是告知参议院被提名人不愿公布这些表格了——提名便会胎死腹中。

Scrutiny of nominees’ returns is exacting. George W. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, made headlines when the Senate’s review of his returns resulted in his amending them to correct errors for three years and pay a nominal sum in back taxes. President Obama’s current Treasury Secretary, Jacob J. Lew, was required to provide a full six years of returns before he was confirmed.

对被提名人纳税情况的审查十分严格。乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)的第一位财政部长保罗·奥尼尔(Paul O'Neill)曾因参议院审查其纳税申报表——导致他修正了三年间的表格,并补缴了一笔微不足道的税款——而登上新闻头条。奥巴马总统当前的财政部长雅各布·J·卢(Jacob J. Lew)在其任命被参议院批准前,曾被要求提交整整六年的纳税申报表。

No presidential nominee with Mr. Trump’s tax situation, his years of undisclosed tax returns, and his attitude toward paying taxes could have been approved by the Senate. Indeed, no president would have dared nominate him. All of us should weigh that heavily in assessing Mr. Trump’s fitness for the Oval Office.

总统提名的人选如果纳税情况与特朗普相仿,像他一样多年来都不公开纳税申报表,对纳税的态度也和他别无二致,是不可能得到参议院认可的。事实上,不会有任何一个总统胆敢提名他。在衡量特朗普是否适于入主椭圆形办公室(Oval Office)的时候,我们所有人都应仔细考虑这一点。

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