Report: Trump Received $885 Million in Tax Breaks for His New York Empire

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Big apples always taste better when they come with hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsides.Photo: Robin G London/Getty Images

An investigation by the New York Times has found that Donald Trump has received at least $885 million in tax breaks, subsidies, and grants for his apartment, hotel, and office developments in New York City, based on analysis of the city’s tax, housing, and finance records. Indeed, Trump seems to have worked to extract as many incentives and exemptions as he could out of the New York government for his real-estate projects — something the candidate has often boasted about himself, having repeatedly explained that, as a businessman, he always fights to pay as little tax as possible. (Of course, since Trump has thus far refused to release his tax returns, it’s impossible to know how much of that is also true when it comes to Trump’s personal finances.) In addition, the new report is only focused on Trump’s New York developments, and as the candidate explained to the Times, he has “gotten incentives in other parts of the world as well,” though he insists that “in many cases, [the incentives] made the difference between building and not being able to build.”

The investigation also found that Trump routinely used his and his father’s political connections to get the breaks he wanted, incentives that helped him cut costs on his projects and make more money on the apartments he sold as a result of lower taxes. And when political connections didn’t work, Trump was more than happy to sue to get the benefits he desired, which he did across three difference mayoral administrations.

The Times points out that while de Blasio and Giuliani administration veteran Alicia Glen characterized Trump as “probably worse than any other developer in his relentless pursuit of every single dime of taxpayer subsidies he can get his paws on”:

In seeking those subsidies, Mr. Trump is not that different from many other developers. But the level of subsidies he has received along with his doggedness in claiming them seem at odds with his rhetoric as an outsider candidate who boasts of his single-handed success and who has denounced what he calls the pay-to-play culture of politics and a “rigged” system of government.

As two examples: Trump also got a city-record 40-year tax break on his first big development, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, a $120 million project that has now cost the city an estimated $339 million in forgiven or uncollected taxes, and Trump sought and received a $150,000 small-business recovery grant after 9/11 for his building at 40 Wall Street, which Trump had told the media was unaffected by the 2001 terrorist attack.

In the end, however, Trump seems to have always found ways to make the law and system pay off for him. Said New York’s former city housing commissioner, Jerilyn Perine, in the article, “[Trump’s] whole MO is to exploit the government for everything he could get. In the end, the letter of the law gave it to him.”