US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comment that tax avoidance is “smart”, which came during the first live US Presidential TV debate on Monday evening in Hempstead, New York, is going viral, as a world in which efforts to stamp out extreme forms of tax avoidance have become increasingly widespread.
Among those who might have been shocked by Trump’s response to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s observation that he probably hadn’t released his tax returns – out of concern that they would show he had not personally paid any income tax in recent years – would be expat Americans who have been subject to heavy penalties for failing to file tax returns while abroad, even though they didn’t realise they were required to.
Those involved in helping Americans to manage their tax obligations most efficiently, meanwhile, such as tax accountants, might have been more inclined to vote for him than previously.
The online edition of the UK tabloid newspaper, the Mirror, features a 48-second clip of the moment when Clinton’s speculations on the reasons Trump has avoided releasing his tax returns elicited his “smart” comment.
Said Clinton: “You’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be.
“Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650m to Wall Street and foreign banks.
“Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”
“That makes me smart,” Trump interjected at this point.
To see the Mirror’s 48-second clip, captioned “Did he just say that?” click here.
Gulf viewers, meanwhile, were intrigued to learn that Trump regards Dubai and Qatar’s airports as “incredible” compared with some of the best-known facilities in the US.
As the Khaleej Times noted, Trump “praised Dubai and Qatar airports while comparing them to a few US airports with “third world” amenities.
“Our airports are like from a third world country,” the online edition of the UAE-based publication quoted the Republican candidate as saying during the debate, beneath the headline, “Dubai airport incredible compared to US, says Trump in debate”.
“You land at La Guardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible – you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land – we’ve become a third world country” Trump went on, the Khaleej Times said.