NY Times Releases Part 2 Of ‘The Trump Tax Return Story’


The news of Donald Trump’s tax returns, leaked to The New York Times and revealed in a planned four parts, has rocked the political news world and left Trump in meltdown mode. Part two was released on Monday night and focuses not on how much Trump paid or how much he owes, but how The Apprentice literally saved him from complete financial ruin. Trump was never, according to this analysis of his tax returns, a successful businessman. What he’s revealed through his taxes to be instead is a con man who sold lies and made a fortune that he once again quickly squandered.

Trump accepted Mark Burnett’s offer to appear in the reality television show at a time when he was flailing financially, having bankrupted many of his businesses, including his casinos. He reported losses that totaled up to more than his profits throughout the 1990s. Having “written” yet another ghostwritten book and appearing in a few commercials, as well as a half-serious bid for the presidency, Trump jumped at the offer.

‘While the story of “The Apprentice” is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.

‘Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.’

The story of Trump told on The Apprentice, the story of a rich businessman who had built his way back from bankruptcy, was all a sham. Trump was still deeply in debt and on the verge of another string of bankruptcies when the opportunity of the show presented itself. Trump has never had a talent for business; he really is nothing more than a famous reality TV show host selling snake oil to unsuspecting targets.

‘There were seven-figure licensing deals with hotel builders, some with murky backgrounds, in former Soviet republics and other developing countries. And there were schemes that exploited misplaced trust in the TV version of Mr. Trump, who, off camera, peddled worthless get-rich-quick nostrums like “Donald Trump Way to Wealth” seminars that promised initiation into “the secrets and strategies that have made Donald Trump a billionaire.”’

Even when Trump began making serious money from the show, and had his first years of positive income, he avoided paying taxes and, instead, reported being owed millions by the IRS in tax returns. Those claims, some for things like hairstyling and vacations, landed him on the IRS target list and has had him tied up in an audit for several years.

‘The ratings success of “The Apprentice,” and the advertising dollars it generated, quickly pushed him into the unfamiliar position of declaring positive adjusted gross income on his I.R.S. Form 1040. After netting $11.9 million from the show in its first year, he really hit the jackpot in 2005 with $47.8 million, the tax records show. He made so much that over three years he paid a total of $70.1 million in income taxes (later refunded, with interest, via an aggressive accounting maneuver now under audit).’