Is Donald Trump lying about his income, or is he a tax cheat?


Crain’s New York Business, having decided to stop waiting for Trump to release his tax returns, has instead gone looking through the public record and discovered that Donald Trump is either: lying about how much money he makes per year; or is a very stupid tax fraud. Basically, Trump applied for something called a STAR (short for NY School Tax Relief Program) tax break for his Trump Tower penthouse.  OK, fine: problem is, that tax break is supposed to be for couples making less than $500,000 a year.  Crain’s included a copy of the tax bill, which indeed shows the STAR rebate ($302); and STAR eligibility is indeed capped for couples making less than $500K year.  And if you feel like looking this up for yourself, well, here you go.  All in the public record, folks. Ain’t Big Government grand?


Now, both Crain’s and I know the answer to why this is  (and almost certainly why Donald Trump’s not releasing his tax returns); it’s because Trump’s income is indeed below $500K a year. His net worth, and I’m sure that Donald Trump has an insane amount of it, is almost certainly tied up in his companies, business ventures, investments; but it’s doubtful that the man has a lot of personal liquidity in his finances.  Which is to say, if you think that Donald Trump can dash off a personal check for thirty million dollars, or ten million dollars, or maybe even five hundred thousand; well, he probably can’t. He would instead have to sell off assets – or mortgage them – to get the liquid assets needed to cover that check, which is a perfectly normal business practice, but one that is not particularly compatible with Trump’s public image of Peter Pan meets Richie Rich meets Monster from The Id.

And all of this is relevant because that public image is half of the reason many people want to vote for Donald Trump. And the idea that Trump can fund his own campaign* if need be is probably another quarter-reason. But even if it’s an eighth of a reason, it’s still, well, Trump probably cannot fund his own campaign. Aside from everything else: Crain’s is also guessing that Trump’s income is disproportionately going to pay his tax burden.  Which again is the man’s privilege, but it’s also basically at odd’s with Trump’s public persona.


Alternatively, Donald Trump’s making umpteen billion dollars a year.  In that case he’s committing tax fraud. But, given that they haven’t arrested him for that yet, I’m assuming that that is a low-probability scenario.

Moe Lane

PS: The reason why Donald Trump will not simply explain all of this is because he thinks that his supporters are too stupid to understand it properly. I wrote all of this out because I do not share his opinion. Muse on that for a while.

*Even if he could, he won’t. A man who will apply for a $302 quarterly tax credit on his luxury penthouse suite is a man who will take public financing for elections and likewise use Other People’s Money without a qualm in the world. That’s the thing about rich people; most of them don’t get that way, and very few of them stay that way, via spending their own money aggressively.


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