Copyright your tax returns President Trump, its not too late.

1974 Time Cover with President Nixon’s signature on
his Federal Income Tax 1040 form for 1971. He had not copyrighted the return.

            “The Congress shall have power  To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries,”  so wrote the founding fathers in the Constitution, which clause is referred to as Article one, section eight, clause eight.

            How do you use it?  Over time, the ease of copyrighting has allowed the claim without any notice. Under the Berne Convention,  the author owns copyright.  If you want to put the © on the document you can, but it is not necessary.  You can claim it by writing copyright, or all rights reserved.  However, to enforce restrictions, you must file with the copyright  office of the Library of Congress, deposit a copy, and pay a two figure fee.  It can be done online, and takes less than an hour, probably less than five minutes for most. 

            What does filing with the copyright office allow?  You can keep others, such as commercial publishers, newspapers, broadcasters from exhibiting your copyrighted documents, videos, and such.   If they do exhibit, you can tell them to take it down, or face six figure penalties for each publication.  You’ve seen the copyright warning on the videos, and warnings against piracy.

            What does this have to do with tax returns?  Copyright them, file with the Copyright office, so as to prevent magazines, and news outlets from profiting from revealing the documents.

            This could yet be applied to President Trump’s tax returns, either city, state, or Federal.   Scan a copy, slap a copyright notice on it, and file with the copyright office.   Even if released by the tax authority, they still can’t be copied, and distributed.  Copyright every page. Why stop there? Put the Copyright notice © after every line.

            Tax returns of private citizens are not public documents in the public domain.

            How did the release of tax returns come about? Back when Richard Nixon was President, someone at the Department of Treasury leaked copies of Nixon’s tax returns, which were promptly published by newspapers and as covers for magazines.    See the graphic from Time cover which is available online.

            The whole thing, leak and stealing the tax returns in 1974, was highly illegal, but that fact was lost in the drum beat of  time.  Ever since then the media, which wants eyes on the screen or page,  demands tax returns.  Poor tradition.  It politicized the tax process.  To avoid clamor, Presidential candidates have since released their returns, until President Trump declined to so do.   The candidates did not release foundation and charitable tax returns of parallel organizations.

            So the media clamored for President  Trumps returns. The Democratic controlled House did the same. New York state legislature passed a law requiring release, and New York prosecutors want to examine them. Never mind that the taxing authorities pour over these returns to squeeze out every nickel until the buffalo bellows.  The buffalo was a feature on the nickel from about 1913 to 1938, and has returned as a feature on gold Fifty dollar coins since 2006.  If there is any fraud on the return, the IRS will catch it.

            Using the same reasoning for justifying release of President Trumps return, i.e. the media can get some wind in its sails,  why not release the returns of all the Supreme Court Justices?  All other Judges? Congressmen? Senators? Secretaries, Generals? Celebrities? Sports figures? Release them all? Don’t forget publishers, Media  folk, reporters, journalists. Religious figures?  Just print them all? Useful for divorces, lien enforcements, law suits,  begging, charitable requests, college endowments, etc.

            All in violation of the Constitution.

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