Sen. Bernard Sanders said Sunday that Americans are “disgusted” by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recently revealed 1996 tax return, which showed a nearly $1 billion loss that likely enabled him to pay no federal income taxes for years.
Mr. Sanders, a far-left primary rival of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who now is one of her top surrogates, said Mr. Trump’s old tax return highlights the “corrupt political system in this country.”
“This is exactly why so many millions of Americans are frustrated, they’re angry, they’re discussed,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said that billionaires such as Mr. Trump get their lobbyists and “friends on Capitol Hill” to put loopholes in the tax code so that they pay no taxes. Then middle-class Americans get stuck with the bill for schools, infrastructure and the military, he said.
“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 bucks an hour. You pay the taxes not me,’” said the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont. “That is why people are angry and want real change.”
A 1996 state tax return obtained by The New York Times showed Mr. Trump claiming a $916 million net operating loss. The massive deduction could have shielded him from any tax liability for up to 18 years, according to tax experts.
The report added pressure on Mr. Trump to release his tax returns, which he has refused to do because he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
There is no legal prohibition against releasing tax records amid an audit. There also is no legal requirement that he release the returns, although every presidential candidate for the last 40 years has done so.
The Trump campaign responded to the report by accusing the newspaper of attempting to aid Mrs. Clinton. But the campaign did not say whether Mr. Trump paid federal income taxes in the years since 1996, although it claimed he paid millions of dollars in various taxes.
“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the campaign said in a statement. “That being said, Mr. Trump 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. Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”