On the heels of signing the controversial GOP tax bill into law, President Donald Trump’s own dishonest tax tricks from the past have come to light.
The Palm Beach Post released a scathing report detailing how Trump caught a huge tax break by transforming Mar-A-Lago into a private resort using a strategy once flagged by the Internal Revenue Service as a “dirty tax scam.”
Apparently, Trump has been using a 1969 tax deduction structured to reward charitable donations that preserve public lands or historic buildings.
In 1985, Trump bought Mar-A-Lago — five years after it was declared a National Historic Landmark — and in 1993, he started negotiating with the city of Palm Beach to permit him to switch the property over to a private club that charged initiation fees starting at $50,000, Raw Story reports.
As a tradeoff, Trump offered to donate parts of the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, thus committing to keeping those particular areas of the property in their historic state.
Generally, in order to use these donations as tax deductions, donors aren’t supposed to get anything in return. Alas, Trump was benefiting from the arrangement because transforming the other parts of the property into a private club kept money flowing into his own pockets.
Making things even sketchier, Trump attorneys reportedly insisted that the city not put his promise to donate parts of the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in writing. If it were in writing, he would not have been eligible for the preservation easement deduction.
This was a point of contention, however, as Palm Beach officials didn’t trust that they could bank solely on Trump’s word.
“They eventually came to an agreement: Trump could have his club, but the town wouldn’t issue a certificate of occupancy for it to begin operations until the easement was in place,” the Palm Beach Post reports.
In 1995, Trump was able to claim a $5.7 million tax deduction as a result of this underhanded deal.
This trick around the system was deemed by the IRS as one of its “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams” used by the wealthy to avoid paying money they owe.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Trump has applied this tax break to his other golf courses and estates, which has saved him more than $100 million in taxes.
This is probably just one of many reasons why Trump continues to withhold his tax returns from the public.
While several of his shady business dealings have been exposed, his taxes would really put the final nail in the coffin of his integrity and would likely make him lose even more of his support base than he has already thanks to his countless other indiscretions and terrible policy decisions.