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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

The Trumps’ $500 million

What could have been bought with the Trumps’ missing $500 million in taxes.

What could have been bought with the Trumps'

What could have been bought with the Trumps' missing $500 million in taxes. Photo Credit: Newsday / Ari Mintz

It’s hard to get specific information out of President Donald Trump about his taxes. He never released his returns.

But The New York Times unearthed some key numbers in its nearly 15,000-word investigation into the Trump family’s tax history — including that the Trump clan avoided something like $500 million in taxes when Fred and Mary Trump transferred holdings to their children over time.

Five hundred million. Half a billion. Imagine what that could buy if it had ended up in the IRS and state tax department coffers.

To get a sense of what that kind of money buys, we can look at what the Trumps’ hometown city might have done with it (pretending that a benevolent federal and state government let New York City get its hands on all of the missing money).

It’s approximately the construction cost for Brooklyn Bridge Park, a city landmark that has been visited and enjoyed by millions.

It’s slightly more than the city is supposed to spend this year fixing roofs, moldy conditions, and heating systems in NYCHA developments.

It’s the operating budget for the parks department, which stewards more than 30,000 acres of land — a much realer landlord than Trump ever was.

It’s enough to cover two years of half-fare MetroCards for residents at or below the poverty line.

It’s plenty for the original cost to launch and operate the city’s new ferries, with enough left over to cover the city’s yearly spend on domestic violence services.

It’s sufficient to pay the city’s yearly operating support for all three public libraries, and then build approximately three minor league baseball stadiums in Coney Island, where Fred Trump had a large portion of his real estate empire when the federal government sued his company for discriminating against African Americans.

It’s the yearly budget for Department of Education school food. And also the yearly waste disposal budget for Sanitation.

But $500 million was pocket change for the Trumps, and it’s pocket change compared to how much tax revenue routinely gets lawyered away by other moguls in New York City. Loopholes in the tax law are easy to find.

Meanwhile, many less financially lucky New Yorkers pay their taxes, save their receipts, search for loopholes too but benefit little from them, worry if they’ll be audited for claiming a deduction for that new laptop or CUNY class.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers in rent-stabilized buildings see their rents increase when dubious “capital improvements” are made by their landlords, sort of like the “capital improvements” made by Fred Trump, who used a sham building supply and maintenance company, as documented by the Times.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers pick up the tab. They can only sort of imagine an amount like $500 million. And thanks to the Trumps, imagine is all they can do.


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