Donald Trump is widely known to be extremely rich. But just how rich is he? Forbes estimates his wealth to be $4.5 billion, ranking him at No. 113 for the United States. Trump, however, claimed in September 2015 that his net worth was $10 billion. Although the true value is a bit mysterious, the Trump brand is closely tied to wealth.
This makes it more mysterious that Trump claimed a New York state property-tax break with the STAR program. Oddly, to qualify for the tax break, a couple must earn under $500,000 annually. Trump received a $302 STAR tax break for his $5.2 million Trump Tower penthouse on Fifth Avenue on his most recent property tax bill.
New York City's Finance Department says it confirms that applicants of the STAR benefit earn under $500,000 annually with New York state tax authorities and applicants had to reapply several years ago. A spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said STAR recipients are even required to provide a social security number for the program. Clearly not a lot of billionaires are applying for the STAR program.
This certainly intensifies the mystery surrounding Trump's wealth. The GOP front-runner even said he's "really rich." It seems his net worth is quite mysterious due to his own actions, but perhaps that is his wish.
In a financial statement in June 2015, Trump claimed his net worth to be $8.7 billion, although this figure was not signed by an accounting firm. A mere one month later, Trump claimed in a press release that his net worth was more than "TEN BILLION DOLLARS."
"My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feeling," Trump said in a December 2007 court deposition. This in fact seems to hit the nail on the head.
With lots of wealth tied up in real estate, Mr. Trump can legitimately lower his income by accelerating the depreciation rates on his properties. This in turn helps offset income.
Trump's annual property tax bill with the city is listed at $175,544, making it more understandable why he has a personal drive to cut taxes for the wealthy. Under the Trump tax plan, families earning more than $300,000 would see their taxes cut from 40 percent to 25 percent. He wants to eliminate the estate tax, which would have the biggest impact on heirs of millions. Mr. Trump also wants to cut back corporate and small business taxes by more than half to 15 percent. He also proposes modest cuts for the lower income levels.
Meanwhile, the $302 tax break under the STAR program continues to gain a lot of attention. Might Trump clear up the mystery by releasing his federal tax returns?
Image Credit:Flickr/Matt Johnson
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.