It is well known that President Trump doesn’t like paying taxes, as he has avoided them over the years personally and for his companies, and gleefully passed a bill to reduce taxes for the rich last December.
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However, it appears that Trump will be stuck paying a tax bill of over $48,000 for an exemption he applied for and received shortly before he moved to the White House.
Trump was set to save $48,834.62 on his New York City tax bill once again beginning July 1 before the New York Daily News brought to the attention of authorities that the president no longer qualifies for the exemption.
“Over the last five years,” The Real Deal reported in September 2017, “Trump has saved just under $200,000 on his tax bills thanks to this abatement, Department of Finance documents show.”
It only applies to condo and co-op owners if the unit is their primary residence, and where they must, according to the law, maintain “a permanent and continuous physical presence.”‘
Trump has not lived in his Manhattan residence since he was inaugurated as president in late January 2017.
“The ‘coop condo abatement,’ is available to owner-occupied co-ops and condos and shaves up to 28.1 percent of property taxes for the unit,” the Real Deal reported.
“It was implemented,” explains The Real Deal, “to compensate for the fact that condos and co-ops are treated as commercial properties and taxed at higher rates than other types of housing units.
Trump’s tax bill for his unit in Trump Tower is $251,574 this year but was lowered by the exemption, which was $44,025 as a result of the abatement, meaning he paid $207,549.
Since Trump spent most of 2017 in Washington, D.C., the other question is how he qualified last year.
“Owners had to file for the abatement between December and March, and eligibility is based on the owner’s status as of Jan. 5 of that tax year,” explained The Real Deal. “Because Trump Tower was Trump’s primary residence on January 5, 2017, the practice appears to be perfectly legal.”
Yes, it is legal but still raises ethics questions.
After the New York Daily News asked the city’s Department of Finance about Trump’s abatement, it was removed.
The city told the News that it contacted the managing agent about the change.
“Managing agents are required by law to inform the Department of Finance of primary residency changes,” the News was told, but that clearly did not happen in this case.
While Trump still qualified for the 2017 abatement, barely, another tenant in Trump Tower – Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort – did not, reported The Real Deal.
Manafort, now in prison for money laundering and other charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, claimed the tax abatement on his 43rd-floor condo in 2016, which yielded a savings of about 17.5 percent ($6,065) on his overall bill.
That same year, he also claimed that his other home in Palm Beach, Florida, was his primary residence in order to earn an abatement there.
He was caught in his lie by The New York Daily News in April 2017 when he sought to get the abatement in both places again. The city finance department reversed the abatement that he had been granted as a result.
It is illegal to claim primary residency in more than one state.
Doing illegal things – or pushing the ethical limits of the law – is apparently a way of life for Manafort, not unlike his former boss, who is likely to fight even this ruling.
A former finance commissioner, Martha Stark, told the News that the city was right to rescind Trump’s tax break but suggested he could still fight it.
“Trump might have room to challenge the decision under state law,” she explained, “if he intends to continue living in New York after his presidency.”
Knowing what we do of Trump, he might have his accountant or the replacement for his personal lawyer Michael Cohen fight to try and save the abatement.
Still, it is good to see that, for now, some justice is being done.
It doesn’t change the fact he used New York City tax law to help launch his empire.
2/ In 1982, New York City Housing Commissioner Anthony Gliedman told the FBI he received an “abusive and profane” call from someone angry that Gliedman had opposed Trump's request for a $20 million tax abatement. https://t.co/l0TN9nrx9e
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) April 24, 2018