Former New York City mayor and Donald Trump campaign supporter Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN this morning, where he was interviewed concerning his thoughts on a newly released report by the New York Times suggesting that the Republican presidential nominee may not have paid any tax at all for “up to 18 years.”
Giuliani described a Trump “fiduciary obligation:” one where the candidate could be “sued” if he didn’t take advantage of every legal avenue available to minimize his personal taxes and maximize profits, for him, his partners, and investors.
While it is true that Donald Trump may act as a fiduciary with some of his associates, and possess a duty to act “ethically” and in their “best interests,” as this duty is defined by Investopedia, it would seem that he has no duty to anyone but himself when paying his own, personal income taxes.
Why would Rudy Giuliani claim that Donald Trump has a fiduciary obligation to pay the least amount of tax possible? Perhaps Mr. Giuliani is merely mistaken. Perhaps it is some strawman being erected that the campaign hopes will suffice to silence the questions of those who might ask them.
CNN’s Jake Tapper notes that Donald Trump is the first presidential candidate to not release their tax returns since 1976.
Tapper asked Giuliani if Donald Trump is “smart,” as he called himself during last Monday evening’s debate, for not paying any taxes, as was suggested by Democrat Hillary Clinton, is it then reasonable to surmise that average Americans, who do pay taxes, are “stupid.”
Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump must be aware that Jake Tapper, and most Americans, know that corporations donate millions of dollars to charity each year. A skimming of the Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD) website, as an example — chosen at random from thousands of companies — shows that the multinational bank has donated $2.5 million to a program entitled “Housing for Everyone,” which is only one part of what appears to be an extensive program of charitable giving. Why aren’t the executives responsible for this being sued? Have they breached their fiduciary duties to shareholders?
And what about Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) founder Bill Gates and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A, BRK-B) fame who founded The Giving Pledge, encouraging the “world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy?”
Should Gates and Buffett be investigated over this? Warren Buffett has publicly admitted that he is regularly audited, and as the fourth most wealthy person in the world (Trump is 324th), definitely takes advantage of legal ways to reduce the amount of personal and corporate tax he and his businesses pay.
However, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, Warren Buffett has issued a challenge to Donald Trump, one where they both release their tax returns and then take questions from the public. So far, it appears that Buffett’s challenge to Trump remains unanswered.
As Jake Tapper suggests in his interview with Trump campaign surrogate Giuliani, if Trump paid zero income tax for 18 years as a result of 1995, the year he was claimed to have taken a loss totaling close to $1 billion, and not paid any tax since, it may mean that Trump’s personal income has never been substantial enough to generate any tax. This suggests that perhaps Donald Trump is not as successful a businessperson as he makes himself out to be.
In a recent appearance on CNBC’s Mad Money, Warren Buffett was reported to decline the opportunity to say whether he would “sell or hold” Berkshire’s investment in Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), as reported by Investopedia. It would seem that Buffett’s decision to not offer an opinion may stem from his, real, fiduciary duty to Berkshire shareholders, knowing that comments he makes about a stock, particularly one that Berkshire holds a large position in, and could conceivably be seen selling, might cause others to sell and cause the price to decline.
Rudy Giuliani pointed out that every American takes advantage of the maximum number of deductions they can. Tapper countered that over half of Americans pay income tax each year, a group that it seems Donald Trump may not fall into.
The gulf between the two camps seems wide. Why can’t everyone pay zero taxes? Why do some Americans have to pay tax, but Donald Trump, who says he is worth more than $10 billion, as reported by the Inquisitr, doesn’t? Are Americans who pay tax somehow “stupid?”
Rudy Giuliani says “no.”
When asked by Jake Tapper how much tax he pays, the Trump campaign stump-speaker responded that the figure was between “me, my accountant, and the IRS.”
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]