All of this helps to reduce Mr. Trump’s tax bill further, because companies can write off business expenses.
Seven Springs, his estate in Westchester County, N.Y., typifies his aggressive definition of business expenses.
Mr. Trump bought the estate, which stretches over more than 200 acres in Bedford, N.Y., in 1996. His sons Eric and Donald Jr. spent summers living there when they were younger. “This is really our compound,” Eric told Forbes in 2014. “Today,” the Trump Organization website continues to report, “Seven Springs is used as a retreat for the Trump family.”
Nonetheless, the elder Mr. Trump has classified the estate as an investment property, distinct from a personal residence. As a result, he has been able to write off $2.2 million in property taxes since 2014 — even as his 2017 tax law has limited individuals to writing off only $10,000 in property taxes a year.
The ‘consulting fees’
Across nearly all of his projects, Mr. Trump’s companies set aside about 20 percent of income for unexplained ‘consulting fees.’
These fees reduce taxes, because companies are able to write them off as a business expense, lowering the amount of final profit subject to tax.
Mr. Trump collected $5 million on a hotel deal in Azerbaijan, for example, and reported $1.1 million in consulting fees. In Dubai, there was a $630,000 fee on $3 million in income. Since 2010, Mr. Trump has written off some $26 million in such fees.
His daughter appears to have received some of these consulting fees, despite having been a top Trump Organization executive.
The Times investigation discovered a striking match: Mr. Trump’s private records show that his company once paid $747,622 in fees to an unnamed consultant for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia. Ivanka Trump’s public disclosure forms — which she filed when joining the White House staff in 2017 — show that she had received an identical amount through a consulting company she co-owned.
Many of the highest-profile Trump businesses lose large amounts of money.
Since 2000, he has reported losing more than $315 million at the golf courses that he often describes as the heart of his empire. Much of this has been at Trump National Doral, a resort near Miami that he bought in 2012. And his Washington hotel, opened in 2016, has lost more than $55 million.