The revelation shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise: The man who proudly crows on national television that not paying taxes makes him “smart” has paid little-to-no federal income tax for quite some time. But it still felt like a gut punch—particularly that one very specific detail, that the president paid exactly $750 two years in a row. As my colleague Inae Oh wrote:
Amid the avalanche of takeaways, somehow the $750 figure has gained special power as a convenient shorthand for exactly how corrupt this president is. For many, including myself, it landed sharply after endless exposure to the scandals and abominations that flow daily from Trump’s White House. The precision of this number was strangely even more appalling than the investigation’s other striking revelation that Trump paid no federal income taxes at all in ten of the previous 15 years.
That’s because average Americans simply know what $750 looks like. Maybe it’s substantially less than what you’ve been paying in taxes as an entry-level journalist fresh out of college with significant loans. It might be the exact amount you’re shelling out for a tax adviser to correct a mistake made during the same year you earned a $31,000 salary. It’s certainly cheaper than the cheapest rent I ever paid to live in New York—$800—and that was while still attending college and racking up student debt in 2009.
I mean, $750 seems an impossibly small tax bill for someone who claims hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly income. But just how small?
In the past several months, we’ve made animations to visualize wildly large and hard-to-comprehend numbers that crop up in the news. But this time, we’re flipping that around to show you exactly how tiny Trump’s 2016 federal income tax payment is. How does it compare to an average American household in 2016? Or the previous occupant of the White House? Watch our animated guide:
Want to see just how tiny Trump’s $750 tax payment really is? Watch this video. pic.twitter.com/mvKlF4r3TR
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) September 29, 2020