Liberty and Justice for All

If you’ve ever wondered how to get away with cheating your taxes, the man in the White House might be able to show you the ins and outs of avoiding law enforcement while doing so.

While we grow up being told that we are all equal individuals with the same rights and opportunities in this country, that does not ring true when it comes to deciding who gets to get away with cheating their taxes.

From the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump has refused to release his tax return information. This broke a 40-year precedent of candidates for the presidency releasing their tax returns.

Most recently, information regarding his tax returns was finally released to the public after serving his first term in the presidency. And it’s safe to say that the release of his tax returns, which revealed that he had only paid $750 in 2016 and 2017 sparked a huge controversy regarding who is exempt from punishment when it comes to cheating their taxes.

While reading news of our president having deducted $70,000 in haircuts from his taxes and counting his family home in Westchester County as a business expense, I was reminded of a story I had read a few years back about Kelley Williams-Bolar. A mother from Ohio who was sentenced to 10 days in county jail and was ordered to serve three years of probation, for lying about her residency in order to provide her daughters with a better education.

Although Williams-Bolar went on to serve just 10 days in county jail, upon her release she was still left to serve three years of probation, ordered to pay back $30,000 in tuition to the school which her daughters had attended and had to perform community service.

For years now we’ve seen the rich get away with cheating their taxes in every possible avenue available to them while lower-income Americans serve time behind bars for basically the same crime.

Those who are as wealthy as Trump have been able to get away with this crime by claiming assets as business expenses, or donating to charities only to receive immediate tax benefits. Not to mention Trump’s tax cuts aided billionaires in paying less taxes than the working class in 2018. While everyday Americans were barely able to get a deduction for their student loan interest payments, the wealthiest in our country benefited from several tax loopholes that this plan provided.

We know that the tax system is tailored to serve those like President Trump, and only those in power like President Trump can fix it. It boggles my mind that everyday Americans don’t see an issue with what he’s done to further aid the wealthy and cheat everyday Americans.

The tax system has left families like Kelley Williams-Bolar’s to find ways to work around the system in order to get ahead or simply stay afloat only to punish them for the same crimes they allow the wealthy to pay their way out of. It’s not enough to be mad at those like Trump who’ve found ways to cheat the tax system, but we have to start looking at how our tax system can be fixed in order to be fair for every American now and for future generations to come.

We’ve grown up having the words “with liberty and justice for all” embedded in our minds while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. But our president cheating the tax system and avoiding punishment goes to show us that those on top will always remain on top no matter what they do. 

The system does not work the same for every American. Although we may not all have many assets to our names, we are all tax-paying Americans and should be riled at how our tax system is set up, regardless of political affiliation. 

Evelyn Mejia is a freshman broadcast journalism major. Reach her at evelynmejia@dailynebraskan.com