Trump getting on the plane

Former U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on a windy day at Andrews Air Force base on April 5, 2018.

(Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

On Greed and Tax Avoidance, Says Bernie Sanders, 'Trump Is Not Alone'

"Yes. Dr. King was right," says the U.S. Senator from Vermont. "We have socialism for the rich, rugged capitalism for the rest."

Senator Bernie Sanders is not asking anyone to be shocked that Donald J. Trump was very good at not paying taxes, but he also wants people to know that the disgraced former Republican president is far from the only rich person or powerful corporation who gets away with paying little or nothing each year federal income tax.

In a tweet on Friday evening, Sanders said: "When it comes to tax avoidance, Trump is not alone."

Sanders then listed a handful of well-known and highly-profitable companies that paid nothing in federal income tax in 2020, the most recent year detailed figures are available for many companies.

"Yes. Dr. King was right," added Sanders: "We have socialism for the rich, rugged capitalism for the rest."

On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee released to the public Trump's tax returns after a yearslong legal fight to obtain them from the IRS after the former president broke with precedent by refusing to release them voluntarily.

What the returns and associated documents released by the committee show is an inside look into how very wealthy individuals diminish their tax liability or pay nothing at all year after year.

Specifically in 2020, Trump—despite his vast business holdings—paid no federal income taxes at all. Also in 2020, despite repeated promises to the public that he would donate all his presidential salary to charity, the New York Timesreported Saturday that the tax returns reveal he made no charitable gifts that year.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), at least 55 major U.S. corporations—including those named by Sanders—paid $0 in federal taxes on massive profits in 2020.

ITEP's analysis shows that these 55 corporations "would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid [the staturory federal rate of 21 percent]." Instead, including by benefiting greatly from the tax law that Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress passed in 2017, those companies collectively "received $3.5 billion in tax rebates."

In all, that's $12 billion less in taxes paid by some of the most profitable and largest companies in the nation.

As numerous outlets have detailed, Bloomberg's reporting states how "massive losses and large tax deductions in Donald Trump's returns reveal how the former president was able to use the tax code to minimize his income tax payments." According to the outlet:

The records illustrate how Trump, as a business owner and a real estate developer, is eligible for a bevy of tax breaks that most taxpayers can’t claim. The filings, which cover 2015 to 2020, also detail how Trump was affected by the 2017 tax-cut bill he signed into law.

The documents further show the sheer complexity of the tax code. As for many US business owners, the filings span hundreds of pages to account for domestic and foreign assets, credits, deductions, depreciation, and more.

Warren Gunnels, a top aide and advisor to Sen. Sanders, said Friday night that far-reaching tax breaks is not the only benefit that Trump received which too many regular people are still denied in the United States: free, taxpayer-funded healthcare.

Throughout his presidency, including when he was suffering from Covid-19, Trump was provided care via the Veterans Administration.

"In 2020, not only did Trump pay nothing in federal incomes taxes, not only did he get a $5.47 million tax refund, he also paid ZERO for his hospital stay at Walter Reed—a 100% government-run hospital," tweeted Gunnels.

"Yes," he added, echoing Sanders. "Trump loves socialism for himself, rugged capitalism for the rest."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.