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President Trump waves before speaking about tax reform at the Farm Bureau Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Sept. 27 in Indianapolis. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

The Lying Billion-Dollar Beneficiary of His Own Tax Plan: President Trump

After offering "pants on fire" lies about who his reform proposal, Times analysis shows just how much Trump would gain personally

Jon Queally

Despite declaring the "full-on whopper" of a lie this week that his tax plan "is not good for me, believe me," a new analysis by the New York Times published overnight shows that President Donald Trump would save himself well over a $1 billion if the proposals he laid out were to become law.

"Trump asks us to take on faith that these public provisions will somehow work to his detriment without explaining why. We'd be foolish to do so." —Philip Bump, Washington PostUsing what it is known about Trump's fortune—a still difficult number to determine given that he refuses to release his tax returns—the Times looked at a portion of Trump's 2005 return leaked to the press earlier this year alongside an estimate by Bloomberg which put his net worth at approximately $2.68 billion in order to assess the degree to which he would directly benefit.

While keeping in mind that other estimates (and unsubstantiated claims by Trump himself) put his wealth higher, the analysis based on the $2.68 billion estimate found that Trump would personally enjoy:

  • Savings of about $1.1 billion from repealing the estate tax
  • Savings of $31 million from repealing the alternative minimum tax
  • Savings of about $16 million from taxing certain types of business income at 25 percent
  • Savings of about $0.5 million from cutting the highest tax rate

Meanwhile, Politifact was among those taking serious issue with the spurious claim made by the president, that the abolishment of the estate tax was a move geared to protect "millions of small business owners and the American farmer" while not mentioning that it is a policy specifically tailored to help millionaires and billionaires like himself pass their massive wealth to their heirs with zero federal tax liability.

The fact-checking site reported:

In 2017, estates worth less than $5.49 million are exempt from the tax, according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Above $5.49 million, the estate is generally taxed at 40 percent. However, family-owned farms and closely-held businesses may be able to pay less or pay in low-interest installments.

So how many estates are affected by the tax? Not many, and the people who pay it are usually among the country’s richest families.

Politifact concluded that Trump saying "millions" of American farmers and small business owners would benefit was "a ridiculously high estimate. Only 5,460 estates even pay the tax each year, according to a credible estimate, and of those, about 80 represented small businesses or farms. We rate the statement Pants on Fire."

As Philip Bump wrote for the Washington Post on Tuesday, "Trump asks us to take on faith that these public provisions will somehow work to his detriment without explaining why. We'd be foolish to do so."


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