Donald Trump has yet to publicly release his tax returns, something that no other presidential candidate has refused to do since 1976. All the while, many Americans have grown suspicious of The Donald’s financial history, and for good reason. Recently, however, Crain’s New York managed to get their hands on a copy of Trump’s quarterly property tax bill from the city of New York’s Department of Finance.
The property tax bill shows that Trump owes approximately $97,000 by July 1st, and $192,000 in total. The highlighted section shows the “Basic STAR – School Tax Relief” credit that New York City’s Trump Tower was eligible for.
But, as The Washington Post notes, in order to qualify for the STAR credit, you must own your own home, it must be your primary place of residence, and you and your spouse can’t make a combined income of over $500,000 annually. There’s also an enhanced STAR credit for people who make under $84,550 and are at least 65 years of age, a requirement which Trump meets. So basically, Trump’s income for the 2014 tax year would have had to have been between $84,550 and $500,000.
The so-called business mogul has been hinting all along that he’s worth billions, but according to his property taxes, that’s not exactly the case. And what’s even more surprising is the fact that Crain’s New York found the same tax credit in Trump’s 2015 property taxes.
According to The Washington Post, however, a spokesperson from the Trump campaign said the credit was a mistake, and a spokesperson for the city of New York also backed up the claim, saying it had been applied to Trump’s property taxes by mistake.
But things get even more bizarre yet. According to The Washington Post, the credit was re-applied to his account earlier this month.
Although things remain pretty unclear at this point, one thing is known for sure: things aren’t adding up in regards to Trump’s income (no pun intended).
The Post found out earlier this year that in 1970, the businessman didn’t pay a cent in taxes because he reported an income of zero dollars.
They also went on to point out that Trump’s wealth could very well be in the form of real estate, which is very different from income earned annually.
According to tax attorney Steven Goldburd:
‘There is supposed to be a clerical check for income over $500,000. However, things like this are often overlooked. When dealing with the government, anything is feasible.’
As for Trump’s lower-than-expected income level, Goldburg said it’s possible Trump “could have sold interest in a partnership or a building that he was not actively involved in (passive income), which would have released ‘suspended losses’ from prior years which would only be allowable after sale.”
So basically, Trump may have lost a significant amount of money from a real estate dealing or a business partnership that resulted in his income falling below $500,000.
The Post also explored the option of depreciation, noting the possibility that some of Trump’s property values may have decreased, leaving him as the owner, to claim the loss(es) for tax purposes.
While speculation has its place, it really does little to solve the problem. The American people have no definitive answer in regards to Trump’s financial history. Obviously, though, there is something sketchy going on or he would’ve simply released his tax returns in the beginning. The situation also begs the question as to why New York City’s tax department would give away the same tax credit “by mistake,” three years in a row?
The only solution: Trump needs to release his tax returns.