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What about the taxes on Hillary's golf course, huh?


As Donald Trump faces a multitude of challenges -- countless scandals at home, the disaster in Syria, a growing trade war with China, and his daily run-ins with the English language -- it's reassuring to know that at heart, he remains the man America chose (for certain values of "choice") as its leader: a petty, mean-spirited, two-bit grifter whose wealth has always depended on cheating and bullying people. Take for example this ProPublica story about the Trump Organization's nationwide efforts to avoid paying property tax on golf courses and high-rise buildings that Trump says are worth bejillions on his federal financial disclosure forms. When the local property tax assessment comes, the various Trump companies that own them sue, insisting that their real value is much, much lower, so Trump should pay far less than the assessed taxes. How much less? How about "none," does "none" work for you?

The ProPublica piece, from the most recent episode of the Trump Inc. podcast co-produced with WNTC radio, covers some property tax grifts that have already made news; the report notes that since Trump became "president," his companies have launched nine lawsuits over property taxes against local tax assessments all over the country. Among them, Yr Wonkette has already looked at a couple, like Trump's lawsuit against Palm Beach County over the taxes on Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. The county appraised the golf course at $20 million, and billed Trump for $398,315, Trump's people sent a wire transfer for $296,595.01 and said that's all you get we will see you in court! The tax Trump wants to pay reflects a valuation of about $15 million.

The punchline, of course, is that in Trump's financial disclosures for 2016 and 2017 financial disclosures, the Jupiter golf club is valued at “over $50 million.” He is, after all a real billionaire, except when he has to pay taxes.

Similar dealio with the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, New York, where the valuation by the city of Ossining ("Trump National at Ossining" doesn't sound nearly so ritzy) is $15 million. UNPOSSIBLE! said the Trump Org, because that little slum of a golf club is only worth a tenth of that: $1.5 million. What a dump!

Also, it should go without saying that in Trump's financial disclosure forms, the very same property is, once more, supposedly worth $50 million.

This isn't just Trump lawyers playing cute and helping the boss hold onto a little more of his money, just like any patriotic American would. It has serious consequences for the towns and cities unfortunate enough to have Trump properties to deal with, as ProPublica notes. When municipalities decide to fight a property tax appeal instead of settling, that puts schools and roads and parks at risk:

Trump National Golf Club LLC, the subsidiary that owns the club, has filed lawsuits over property taxes each year since 2015. If the town loses, they’ll have to refund Trump National the difference between what it claimed was owed and the Trump Organization’s number — roughly $439,960 from 2015 alone. That will come out of school budgets and municipal funds. Briarcliff Schools, the district the course falls in, has put aside $2.8 million of their annual $51.4 million budget for future tax refunds. The town and a number of other municipal offices have set aside funds as well.

And then there's Chicago, where the gleaming Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago rises 92 incredibly tacky stories above prime riverfront real estate. The Trump Organization has reduced its tax bills on that sucker by over $14 million since it went up in 2008, and has sued to claw back even more property tax money since 2001. There are five open lawsuits involving the Chicago tower at the moment; if Trump wins them all, Cook County, the city, and Chicago Public Schools would have to pay back a total of $3 million -- and about half of that would come from the schools budget. Lucky thing Betsy DeVos is going to make public schools go away anyway, huh?

If there's any justice, this will all end in a climactic showdown at the Cook County Assessor's Office after a long police chase, with some Illinois Nazis plunging off a mile-high freeway, a SWAT team going "Hup! Hup! Hup!," and Donald Trump and his attorneys surrounded by a million lawmen. But if Trump tries to sing "Jailhouse Rock" during the end credits, we're outta there.

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[ProPublica / Trump Inc.]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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