The 2016 presidential campaign was kicked up a notch the evening of Sept. 26 when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump finally met face to face to discuss issues confronting the United States and the voters who will select our 45th president.
The general topics, selected by moderator Lester Holt of NBC News, were America's direction, achieving prosperity and securing America. During the course of the evening, the issue of taxes managed to make it into the discussion.
The main focus was, not surprisingly, the matter of Trump's tax returns, which he was steadfastly refused to make public.
But the Republican and Democratic candidates did touch on other tax matters. Here are some highlights I pulled from the first debate transcript (there's a video there, too, if you prefer to watch instead of read).
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump debate, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016
Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
Trump on taxes 9/26/16:
Under my plan, I'll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That's going to be a job creator like we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.
And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan. I'm very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs. But regulations, you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence.
When I go around — Lester, I tell you this, I've been all over. And when I go around, despite the tax cut, the thing — the things that business as in people like the most is the fact that I'm cutting regulation.
I'm going to cut regulations. I'm going to cut taxes big league, and you're going to raise taxes big league, end of story.
Clinton on taxes 9/26/16:
We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than we've ever had.
I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that's exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.
Independent experts have looked at what I've proposed and looked at what Donald's proposed, and basically they've said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would in some instances disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession.
What I have proposed would not add a penny to the debt, and your [Trump] plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.
You can watch the full first presidential debate at C-SPAN.
If Clinton and Trump talk about taxes in the two debates — Sunday, Oct. 9, and Wednesday, Oct. 19 — scheduled before the Nov. 8 election, I'll add those additional comments to this page.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump debate, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
FactCheck.org says both candidates distorted the other's tax plan.
Trump said Clinton was "raising everybody’s taxes massively," when two analyses concluded almost all of the tax increases she proposes would fall on the top 10 percent. And Clinton claimed Trump’s plan “would end up raising taxes on middle class families.” Some families would see increased taxes, but on average middle-income taxpayers would get a tax cut.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the pro-business Tax Foundation both found that almost all of Clinton's proposed tax increases would fall on the top 10 percent of taxpayers. Hardest hit would be the less than 0.1 percent of taxpayers who earn more than $5 million per year.
An analysis by Lily L. Batchelder, professor at New York University School of Law, found that Trump's plan likely would increase taxes for about 7.8 million families with children who are minors, or roughly 25 million individuals. The Tax Foundation, however, found that, on average, middle income taxpayers would get a tax cut under Trump's proposal.
Both candidates have proposed closing the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund, private equity, and other Wall Street money managers to avoid paying ordinary income rates on their earnings. Trump, however, incorrectly said Clinton wants to keep it.
When Trump's apparent $976 million loss, reported by the New York Times after receiving copies of his 1995 state tax returns, was broached, the Republican nominee appeared to concede that the reports he possibly legally avoided paying federal taxes for as many as 18 years.
But Trump also charged that many billionaires who support his Democratic rival have used the same tax-saving techniques. Trump specifically named Clinton advocate Warren Buffett.
The next day, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway refuted Trump's charges by releasing a statement with some key information from his most recent tax return.
You can watch the full second presidential debate at C-SPAN.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump debate, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada
The 2016 presidential hopefuls' final face-to-face took a nasty turn late in the event. As Clinton was giving her summation of her goals and policies, Trump leaned into his microphone to characterize her as "such a nasty woman."
The GOP nominee's interruption was sparked by the Democrat's dig at her ostensibly rich opponent's apparent legal use of the tax code to avoid paying federal taxes, possibly for as many as 18 years.
Social media erupted in #NastyWoman comments, an internet meme was born and pop star Janet "Miss Jackson, if you're nasty" Jackson saw her 1986 hit "Nasty Boys" jump to the top of music streaming platforms.
As for political and tax policy, Trump and Clinton were a bit more substantive that in their previous two debates. However, nothing new, at least tax-wise, was revealed.
But since it was in Vegas, baby, the debate-related prop bets got more attention this time.
I'll also post any tax comments that the vice presidential candidates make during their debate on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Tim Kaine, Mike Pence debate, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2016
Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia
As expected, tax talk during the 2016 campaign's lone vice presidential debate centered on Trump's tax situation.
Democratic VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia derided Trump's characterization of not paying taxes as smart.
"So it's smart not to pay for our military. It's smart not to pay for our veterans. It's smart not to pay for teachers," Kaine said. "And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess we're stupid."
Kaine also pointed out that his Republican rival Gov. Mike Pence allowed the Trump team to vet Pence's tax returns, 10 years of which he subsequently made public.
"Donald Trump has filed over 100 pages of financial disclosure," countered Pence, noting that, not the release of tax returns, is what is required by law.
You can watch the full vice presidential debate at C-SPAN.