Donald Trump

Has Trump Ever Actually Made Money?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Donald Trump's tax returns tell us he only paid a combined $1,500 in taxes in two out of the last 17 years by reporting massive losses that offset any potential tax bill.

More records published by the New York Times last night dive deeper into how Trump has managed to wiggle his way out of massive private sector debts just as they were coming due and taxes at the same time by reporting equally massive losses.

According to tax records, Trump's lenders have forgiven over $287 million in debt in the last ten years and that should have triggered a massive tax bill, but his reported losses countered all over it. And, moreover, he has borrowed even more money to repay what wasn't forgiven.

The president’s federal income tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show for the first time that, since 2010, his lenders have forgiven about $287 million in debt that he failed to repay. The vast majority was related to the Chicago project.

How Mr. Trump found trouble in Chicago, and maneuvered his way out of it, is a case study in doing business the Trump way.

When the project encountered problems, he tried to walk away from his huge debts. For most individuals or businesses, that would have been a recipe for ruin. But tax-return data, other records and interviews show that rather than warring with a notoriously litigious and headline-seeking client, lenders cut Mr. Trump slack — exactly what he seemed to have been counting on.

Big banks and hedge funds gave him years of extra time to repay his debts. Even after Mr. Trump sued his largest lender, accusing it of preying on him, the bank agreed to lend him another $99 million — more than twice as much as was previously known — so that he could pay back what he still owed the bank on the defaulted Chicago loan, records show. [...]

Yet as has often happened in his long career, Mr. Trump appears to have paid almost no federal income tax on that money, in part because of large losses in his other businesses, The Times’s analysis of his tax records found.

We all know there's a different set of rules for people like us and for "businessmen" like Trump, but this is still so staggering it's almost comedic.

Imagine your own consumer bank telling you there's no need to repay a majority of your loan just because you don't want to. Then imagine your bank lending you even more money to pay them what you already owe. And then you write it all off as a loss of business so you aren't effectively billed for anything; you just keep recycling the same debt over and over. Rinse and repeat with another bank.

It's an unthinkable scenario for most people. The average person can find themselves in big trouble if they just miss a few credit card payments, much less the bill for a $300 million skyscraper in downtown Chicago.

If Trump never pays taxes because he always reports more losses than income, it made me wonder if he actually makes money. He takes in revenue including from American taxpayers who paid for a trip to one of his own hotels in Las Vegas just last night, but his biggest ventures have been failures and he's leveraged well into the next decade with up to $1 billion owed by 2025 according to records obtained by the Times.

Either he's broke as hell and one of the worst businessmen of all time or he's illegally reporting huge losses that don't actually exist. Or both.

  • Draxiar

    I hope this man gets everything he deserves- sideways and sharpened.

  • Aynwrong

    I have to be honest, even if Biden wins in November I have a hard time believing Trump will ever pay a price for any of this or any of the government corruption he’s engaged in or even for the monstrous sadism he unleashed at the border. Our government and justice system just don’t seem to have the will to wear down someone as pathological as Trump, particularly with the GOP and conservative media caterwauling about he’s being persecuted by the great, big liberal something or other.

    And the Democrats… I strongly suspect that most of them will be in “national healing” mode.


    • Christopher Foxx

      I strongly suspect that most of them will be in “national healing” mode.

      Which will absolutely guarantee Trump 2.0 within the next two decades.

  • muselet

    Has Trump Ever Actually Made Money?

    Depends on what you’re asking.

    The Trump Organization is a shell game. Some money comes in, gets moved among the various divisions and subsidiaries, and eventually vanishes in a puff of red ink. No part of the company has ever turned a profit; no part of the company was ever intended to turn a profit, as far as I can tell. The whole rickety structure is built on massive—and impossible to repay—amounts of debt.

    As for Donald Trump personally, behind the layers of creative accounting and tax dodges and oddly-structured business deals is a multi-millionaire (exactly how multi- he is is a mystery) pretending to be a multi-billionaire. He’s never missed a meal and he’s never missed a paycheck, but he’s nowhere near as rich as he pretends to be.

    It’s an unwieldy arrangement, one that’s unlikely to be sustainable for very much longer. When your total debt load is in ten figures, you’re metaphorically juggling chainsaws and it’s starting to rain.


    • 1933john

      Not to worry, Tromp is skimming the stimulus
      through kickbacks from the stimulated.