Billionaire Donald Trump says it was “smart” for him to avoid paying any federal taxes for up to 18 years, but that’s not the way a vast majority of Americans see it.
In a new Reuters poll, 61 percent call a candidate who has the means but pays no taxes “unpatriotic.” Even more, 67 percent, call it “selfish.”
Being viewed as unpatriotic and selfish could explain why Trump finds himself behind Hillary Clinton by double digits in a new national poll. She also now leads in all key battleground states, including Ohio.
Among other services, federal taxes pay for America’s military and veterans programs. Trump reportedly paid no federal taxes when the nation went to war following 9/11.
“After military service, the most patriotic thing you can do as a wealthy person is pay your taxes,” said Mark Cuban, a billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. “That keeps the roads paved, the military paid, and kids going to school, and he obviously doesn’t understand that concept.”
A New York Times report showed Trump could have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years because of $916 million in losses. Trump has not denied the report.
“You only become rich by living in a nation that gives you all the things you need to become rich, like infrastructure, education, and a workforce, and mostly, a population of people who can afford to buy things,” said Morris Pearl, chairman of Patriotic Millionaires. “Those are the things you need to have to become a wealthy businessperson.”
Patriotic Millionaires is a group of 200 wealthy people who advocate for more responsible thinking. One of the group’s central tenets is that paying taxes is part of one’s patriotic duty.
Cuban, who also stars on the reality show Shark Tank, told CNN he often gets offered tax breaks as a fellow billionaire, but avoids taking them. He called on Trump to release his tax returns.
“If Donald is taking tax shortcuts, maybe he bought an insurance policy as opposed to doing something in real estate and he took a huge tax write-off to offset income — we don’t know,” said Cuban. “And that’s the inherent problem: there’s no transparency and he is so ashamed of what he’s done.”
The last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, believes Trump is still hiding something.
“Frankly, I think we have a good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes, said Romney. “I think there’s something there. Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or to the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s doing.”
The poll also found 62 percent of Republicans thought a presidential candidate who pays no taxes is “smart.” But many of them also believed it is unpatriotic.