Once again the New York Times attempts to make an issue out of President Trump’s real estate holdings working as a tax shelter and reducing income taxes.
In the article the Times completely obfuscates the way income taxes are strategically offset by depreciation, mortgage interest and the entire reason why real estate ownership is viewed as a business.
John Carney writing for Breitbart gets it:
[…] So imagine our guy took out an $8 million mortgage at five percent, paying $2 million cash. Now he’s got to pay $400,000 in mortgage payments. He wants to make at least that much so he charges tenants an aggregate of $425,000, which after upkeep comes out to $410,000 of net income. (Remember, if the bank didn’t think he could make more in rent than the mortgage payment, it probably wouldn’t have lent him the money.) The interest payment on the loan–let’s call it $390,000–is deductible from his income, leaving him with $20,000 in net income. He gets to keep that and pay no taxes on it, however, because he still gets to apply the $370,000 depreciation charge. He tells the IRS he lost $350,000.
Under our tax code, ordinary business expenses can be deducted in the year they are incurred. But when a business pays for a long-lasting item expected to produce income–like machinery, vehicles, or an apartment building–it is considered a capital investment. Instead of getting to write-off the cost all at once, the business is required to write it off over the course of decades. After the 1986 tax code, this was set at 27.5 years for residential real estate. (more)
Anyone who has ever operated a business knows that offsetting income is one of the primary reasons to be self-employed. Additionally, the Times completely skips over the tens-of-millions in payroll taxes paid by the Trump organization and tens-of-millions in property and sales taxes paid by all of the various Trump properties.
In the commercial real estate market it is common sense to offset income tax liabilities with a host of valid annual expenses, long-term capital depreciation and mortgage interest payments. With over 500 individual business entities within the Trump organization the ability to offset income in one asset with expenses in another is simply good accounting.
Additionally, President Trump donates his $400,000 government salary back to the U.S. government. So to accuse President Trump of only paying $750 in income taxes totally ignores all of the other donations and tax payments he makes.
In practical terms no President before Trump has ever had his actual business portfolio so deeply connected to the success of the American economy. It doesn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime to have President Trump in office…. Now let’s figure out how DC politicians making $200k/yr are able to become multi-millionaires while holding office.