Bernie Sanders Goes Off On Donald Trump's Taxes

by Cate Carrejo

In keeping with his crusade against financial inequality in the United States, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders responded to Donald Trump's leaked tax return Sunday morning, saying that the business magnate is one of the reasons people are angry at the country's financial system. "You've got some middle class people working longer hours for lower wages — they pay their taxes, they support their schools, they support their infrastructure, they support the military. But the billionaires? No, they don't have to do that, because they have their friends on Capitol Hill. They pay zero in taxes," Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union.

Sanders was of course referenced the three-page tax document published by The New York Times on Saturday, which reportedly indicates that Trump declared a large loss in 1995, which would allow him to avoid paying taxes for many years. Whereas some middle class filers earning less than $100,000 paid 49 percent of their income to the government, Trump could possibly have avoided paying anything, despite his vast personal wealth. Trump's campaign released a statement to the media Saturday, reiterating his business career and stating that he has paid "hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions."

Not only does this seem like a flagrant abuse of the tax system, but Trump seems to be bragging about it. From Trump's perspective, avoiding taxes makes him "smart," as he touted in the first presidential debate last Monday. That claim took on new meaning with the release of the 1995 return, which did indeed show that Trump paid $0 in taxes that year.

As Sanders pointed out during his interview, even the perceived dishonesty and lack of integrity highlighted by Trump's tax return could be an issue for him, whether or not he chooses to release the rest of his records. "Trump goes around and says, 'Hey, I'm worth billions, I'm a successful businessman. But I don't pay any taxes. But you, you make $15 an hour? You pay the taxes, not me,'" Sanders said. "That is why people are angry and want real change in this country."

Trump's public persona has frequently caused trouble for him in this campaign, and this most recent allegation likely won't do anything to alleviate that problem.