Trump tells sweltering rally in Nevada he won’t tax tips

By Nathan Layne and David Lawder

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) -Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a rally in Las Vegas on Sunday that he would seek to end taxation of income from tips, a direct appeal to service workers in the swing state of Nevada, which polls suggest is leaning his way ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

Trump also once again valorized his supporters convicted for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling them “warriors” and suggesting a possible counter-investigation into the event if he were re-elected.

The pledge on tips, revealed at a sweltering outdoor rally in Las Vegas where temperatures reached 100 degrees, adds one more detail to a Trump tax plan that has included vague pledges of tax relief to middle-income workers and small businesses.

“So this is the first time I’ve said this, and for those hotel workers and people that get tips you’re going to be very happy because when I get to office, we are going to not charge taxes on tips people (are) making,” Trump told a crowd of several thousand people.

Trump said he would “do that right away, first thing in office,” and noted in prepared remarks that he would seek legislation in Congress to make the change. “You do a great job of service, you take care of people and I think it’s going to be something that really is deserved.”

Trump has previously pledged to make permanent the Republican-passed individual tax cuts that he signed into law in 2017 but which expire at the end of 2025. Tax experts estimate that doing so would raise U.S. deficits by some $4 trillion over a decade compared to current forecasts.

As current law requires, tipped employees must report their tips as income. Eliminating this would add further to deficits without new revenues elsewhere.

Trump’s Democratic opponent, President Joe Biden, has pledged to maintain Trump’s tax cuts for households earning under $400,000 a year, but wants to substantially raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on large corporations.

The Las Vegas speech was Trump’s first large-scale rally since a New York jury found him guilty on May 30 of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election, making him the first former U.S. president convicted of a crime.

Trump also continued to hammer Biden on illegal immigration, predicting that Biden’s move last week enacting a broad asylum ban on migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border would not make a difference, even though the ban is similar to restrictions Trump tried to implement when he was president.

“It’s bullshit what he signed,” Trump said of Biden’s executive order, prompting a wave of chants by the crowd repeating the profanity.

For days, Las Vegas residents have been coping with unusually high temperatures, part of a heatwave scorching the U.S. Southwest. The Trump campaign set up misting stations while partially overcast skies and a breeze helped mitigate the heat, though a handful of people had to be taken away for treatment.

SWING STATES

Trump, who has repeatedly called people imprisoned for their roles in the Capitol attack “hostages” and said he may pardon them, on Sunday described them as “warriors” without blame.

“Those ‘J-six’ warriors – they were warriors – but they were really more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened. All they were doing is protesting a rigged election.”

Nevada is one of six or seven swing states likely to determine the election. A Fox News survey conducted after the guilty verdict showed Trump ahead of Biden in Nevada by five percentage points, an advantage roughly in line with an average of polls compiled by poll tracking website FiveThirtyEight.

Rebecca Gill, a political science professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said she was skeptical that polls were fully capturing where voters will be in a few months, given that many are not yet paying attention to the race.

Gill said she did not think Trump’s criminal conviction has fully sunk in with voters and could deter some moderate Republicans from backing him. In addition, a proposed amendment to enshrine access to abortion in the state constitution would, if it makes it onto the ballot, likely boost Democratic turnout.

“I think that (Nevada) is 100% still in play,” Gill said.

Sunday’s rally comes on the heels of a three-day fundraising push by Trump that included stops in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, during which he raised $33.5 million from donors, according to senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Las Vegas and David Lawder in Washington, additional reporting by Brendan McDermid, Alexandra Ulmer, Brad Brooks and Douglas Gillison; Editing by Ross Colvin, Daniel Wallis, Bill Berkrot and Diane Craft)