While Donald J. Trump refuses to release his federal tax returns, saying his tax rate is “none of your business,” a USA TODAY analysis found Trump’s businesses have been involved in at least 100 lawsuits and other disputes related to unpaid taxes or how much tax his businesses owe.
Trump’s companies have been engaged in battles over taxes almost every year from the late 1980s until as recently as March, the analysis of court cases, property records, and other documents across the country shows. At least five Trump companies were issued warrants totaling more than $13,000 for late or unpaid taxes in New York state just since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015, according to state records. This spring, as Trump flew to campaign rallies around the country aboard his trademark private jet, the state of New York filed a tax warrant to try to collect $8,578 in unpaid taxes from the Trump-owned company that owns the Boeing 757. The company has since paid that tax bill.
As recently as last week, Trump said he was “willing to pay more” taxes personally and that “taxes for the rich will go up somewhat” if he becomes president. But the lawsuits and other tax-related disputes show a different reality for his businesses. They illustrate a pattern of systematically disputing tax bills, arguing for lower property assessments, and in some cases not paying taxes until the government takes additional action. At least three dozen times, Trump companies’ unpaid tax bills have forced the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to go to local courts to get liens against his properties to try to collect overdue bills. New Jersey also had to go to court for a lien to collect a Trump company’s unpaid tax bill. Eventually, those disputes were resolved, and his companies paid some amount of taxes.
The disputes surrounding Trump’s business taxes are uncharted territory for the presidential nominee of a major party. The GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, also had extensive business interests as the leader of a private-equity fund. But Trump has a network of complicated real estate and other investments, and some of the tax disputes are ongoing.
Trump has acknowledged that he tries to pay as little taxes as possible, and the public records across the country shed light on how he does it. In documents rarely seen by the public, Trump's businesses regularly minimize the value of his properties for tax purposes. Publicly, including in his presidential financial disclosure report, Trump’s team declares many of those same properties are worth tens of millions of dollars more.
He’s fought tax collectors to lower the assessed values of his luxury golf courses in Briarcliff, N.Y., and Jupiter, Fla. Yet on his presidential financial disclosure report, he valued each at more than $50 million.
USA TODAY’s examination of Trump’s track record as a business taxpayer found not just court actions, but dozens of additional tax disputes with local authorities that didn’t reach the courthouse in states including New York, Nevada, Florida and New Jersey. In some cases, Trump’s businesses have disputed tax assessments; in others, they have simply not paid the tax bill until after the government took additional action.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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