Trump Cuts Own Taxes By 81%

[ Posted Thursday, April 27th, 2017 – 15:59 UTC ]

There's something blatantly obvious to point out about President Donald Trump's recent tax plan, which makes me wonder all the more why others aren't forcefully pointing it out in the media today. Because while it's debatable (and impossible to figure without making assumptions which may or may not be true) how Trump's new tax system would affect his own taxes in terms of deductions and "pass-through income" and all the rest of it; there is one very obvious tax cut Trump would love to see happen, because it would reduce his own taxes by a whopping 81 percent. What's even more puzzling (about the lack of coverage) is that it is perhaps the easiest change he's proposing, in terms of figuring out its impact on Trump's own taxes.

We only have one recent year's data to work with, and we only have the 1040 form, with no accompanying schedules, forms, or explanations. So it's tough to figure how several of Trump's proposals would affect him personally, in anything more than generalized terms. But one Trump proposal is very easy to figure the impact, because it is a breakout number on the 1040 form. On the 2005 Trump form that was leaked last month, this number can be found on Line 45: Alternative Minimum Tax. And it's a doozy, when compared to Trump's overall taxes.

Without taking into account things like penalties and interest, Trump paid an impressive total of $38,435,451 in federal taxes in 2005. Of that total, only $5,310,616 was entered on the line most people figure their taxes on (Line 44). But a whopping $31,261,179 of the total taxes Trump paid was for the Alternative Minimum Tax -- which he is now proposing to abolish. Divide it out, and Trump's Alternative Minimum Tax was 81.3 percent of his total taxes.

That's a pretty easy division to do. It took me about five minutes, four of which was spent digging out the copy of Trump's taxes I had downloaded and saved (for future reference). It is, in fact, the most obvious way his own taxes would be impacted by his proposed changes to the tax system.

Trump made over $150 million ($151,794,067) in total gross income in 2005. Hearing he paid $38 million in taxes led many people to think: "That's a reasonable amount of taxes on that income." Indeed, Trump was paying a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney had paid (we know this, because Romney did partially release his own taxes).

But what would people have thought if the total tax Trump paid on $152 million was only $7,174,272? That is an effective tax rate of only 4.7 percent, folks -- instead of the 25.3 percent Trump actually paid. With one single change to the tax code, Trump would have saved himself 81 percent of his 2005 tax bill.

So where are the headlines? Where are the lead stories on network news with the same headline as this story? Why hasn't anyone noticed this? The truly astonishing part about this lack of attention is that this is the easiest impact on Trump's taxes to understand. You don't have to have Trump's Schedule A, you don't have to know how his own business is structured, you don't have to dig any deeper into Trump's finances than one single line on his 1040 form. The numbers are big (bigly?), but the math is straightforward and easy to calculate. Divide two numbers, and there it is: 81 percent savings.

Rich folks, of course, have hated the Alternative Minimum Tax since it began, because it specifically targets them. The tax exists solely to prevent people with high-priced accountants and tax lawyers from gaming the tax system to reduce their own taxes to minimal amounts (like paying 4.7 percent). It is a correction that in essence says: "You have taken too many deductions and writeoffs, so let's figure a more realistic amount of taxes for you to pay." Which is why rich folks hate it so much. Their seething rage for it is only equalled by their similarly-intense hatred for the Estate Tax, which was created to avoid creating dynasties of wealth in this country (see: Trump's children). Which is why it's not too surprising to see that Trump wants to abolish both of them.

The really astonishing thing is that this isn't some obscure detail that could easily have been overlooked. Trump released not so much a tax plan as a "tax memo." It was one single page of bullet points. It contained fewer than 200 words and only seven numbers. That's not a tax plan, that's a glorified tweet. But because of the simplicity of what Trump did announce, it is all the more incredible that the media seems to be largely ignoring the most obvious and egregious tax cut Trump threw in there for his own benefit. As I said, it's not hard to find, and it's not hard to figure.

Trump is trying to cut his own taxes by 81 percent. So where are the headlines?

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


18 Comments on “Trump Cuts Own Taxes By 81%”

  1. [1] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    "Trump released not so much a tax plan as a "tax memo." It was one single page of bullet points. It contained fewer than 200 words and only seven numbers. That's not a tax plan, that's a glorified tweet."

    Love it.

    A very busy week for Trump indeed.

    I hope he can get in some down time.


  2. [2] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    I would posit that the lack of media headlines and coverage is due to Manuchin doing an excellent job of messaging that this really isn't the plan but rather an opening offer in negotiations for the actual plan...

    The other thing I am surprised hasn't garnered any attention is the "pass-through" tax. From some of the reporting on his real estate deals we know he utilizes Pass through corporations. Currently said income is subjected to the normal tax scales. In Trumps case before any deductions or anything else it is subject to the 39.6 percent tax bracket (using his 2005 tax numbers). This would result in a 62.12 percent tax reduction for income from those entities.

    If the GOP pushes through both a repeal of the AMT and the "Pass-through" rate reduction without any meaningful deduction/loophole reform it suddenly becomes entirely possible that Trump could pay a lot less than the 7 mil he would under a normal sans AMT rate. I would even go as far as to say he could pay nothing....

    Now that is is truly stunning and news worthy.

  3. [3] 
    altohone wrote:

    response to comment 38 from A very busy week

    "if you read liz's response to [04] on the coulter post, it doesn't bear out your memory"

    I'm on double secret probation with Liz.
    Don't hold it against her.
    But my memory is fine.

    "i'll continue to respond here"

    As expected.
    And I think hiding your defense of our "ally's" covert aid to al Qaida in an old thread is wise.
    Israel couldn't defend it well either, so they abandoned the policy when it was exposed.

    "it's not particularly relevant to any recent column, which makes me curious as to why you seem so preoccupied with israeli politics."

    Letting your spin stand unchallenged would be an affront to reason.
    And for some reason, I've been commenting about Syria, and the powers that be decided to hold a press conference about Syria in Israel. I've lodged a complaint on your behalf.
    Of course, nobody else here posts links and comments about news of the day unrelated to the topic of the column, so I understand your confusion.
    (do I need to point out the eye rolls for you?)

    "yes, it's a choice, but it would be political suicide for mattis to refuse to meet."

    The meeting may be "demanded by propriety" as you put it.
    But you're conflating that with the optional joint press conference AFTER the meeting due to a lack of a valid defense for Mattis legitimizing a "crazy" "nutjob" like Avigdor Lieberman.

    I wrote-
    "I think it's an inane argument to suggest that a parliamentary system is somehow relevant to Israel aiding al Qaida."

    you responded-
    "you're conflating two different arguments"

    Not at all. See comment 37 from A very busy week.
    Perhaps you meant the response for a different quote, but you wrote it. Don't blame me.

    "the parliamentary system is relevant to lieberman being appointed defense minister. he's got a large constituency in the ruling coalition, so a high level appointment is part of the cost of his faction's support."

    Yes, I know Israeli voters have been making horrible choices too. Why were you mentioning it in a response about Israel aiding al Qaida?
    Whatever. You messed up. No big deal.
    But Bibi needing to form a coalition with a faction led by a "crazy" "nutjob" (as you put it) in order to remain in power is a big deal.
    It exposes the deplorable state of affairs in Israel, and how craven Bibi is all at the same time.

    "it's not as if they specifically decided to help al-Qaeda"

    Sure, Israel accidentally decided to covertly aid the fighters that just coincidentally were in an adjacent area controlled by al Qaida, while they simultaneously (and accidentally no doubt) decided not to aid fighters in adjacent areas controlled by Syria or Hezbollah.

    Of course, Israel abandoning the policy of covertly aiding al Qaida as soon as it was exposed, and the selective nature of the aid, and the fact that they tried to hide it... all makes your desperate spin laughable.

    "are you claiming that israel is not a good faith ally of the united states?"

    Israeli intelligence is horrible, so no doubt they had no idea they were helping to fund ISIS by buying their oil.
    (these eye rolls are getting tiresome)

    "they do hate assad, hezbollah and iran. however, the interventionist perspective is currently in the minority"

    But Israel trying to get America to fight an interventionist regime change war in Syria for them is not the "minority perspective"... and that is hardly new (cough, Iraq, Iran) nor something an American should be defending.
    You should be condemning it instead of trying to spin Israeli burden shifting efforts while pretending it doesn't represent their wishes.
    Your argument is dishonest.

    "how is it hypocritical, they're two different countries, and both decisions were made with domestic politics in mind. in US politics, Mattis couldn't be seen rejecting a meeting with his israeli counterpart. in israeli politics, netanyahu was trying to marginalize his political opposition by denying them access to foreign leaders."

    You are arguing that Bibi rejecting a meeting is acceptable while Mattis rejecting a meeting would be unacceptable... that's hypocrisy plain and simple.
    Of course, once again you are falsely conflating the voluntary press conference by Mattis AFTER the meeting with the meeting, and blowing a hole in your own argument.

    And Bibi treating human rights groups as his "political opposition" and trying to deny foreign leaders access to them is the horribly disgusting, undemocratic, scum of the earth, offensive reason the BBC article was even written.
    You are once again defending the indefensible.

    "your opinion is not informed by israeli politics. i personally think it was a nasty move, but its intended objective was rational based on the local politics."

    How could a guy like me who is "preoccupied with Israeli politics" (as you put it) know anything about Israeli politics and parliamentary systems?
    I must be ignorant for pointing out what a horrible guy Bibi is for needing to form a coalition with a "crazy" "nutjob" in order to cling to power.

    And of course you think it's rational to partner with a crazy nutjob who supports policies that are against US interests. That's what we should all expect of our "strongest ally in the region".
    (one last eye roll)


  4. [4] 
    neilm wrote:

    I think Trump's big win is the cutting of Corporate Taxes to 15%.

    I think this will let him convert his income from personal to corporate and win "bigly", even with the elimination of the AMT.

    I'm no tax expert however.

  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:


    Q1 GDP numbers are a disaster for 45.

    0.7% - and that didn't include the revised (lower) retail numbers from Wednesday - when those are included in the next estimate, I expect the number will drop to 0.5% (although other factors might move the number up or down when some future numbers come out).

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    "Trump Bump" in the economy became the "Trump Speed Bump"

    What a loser.

  7. [7] 
    michale wrote:

    "Trump Bump" in the economy became the "Trump Speed Bump"

    What a loser.

    If Trump doesn't get the credit when the reports are good...

    He doesn't get the blame when the reports are bad...

    You can't have it both ways....

  8. [8] 
    michale wrote:

    Well, shit......

    I guess I am back... :^/


  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    agree. i did not give him credit for the earlier gains, and i do not blame him for the current losses. we won't know for at least nine more months what trump's real effect on the economy has been.


  10. [10] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    In the midst of the tax debate - a reminder from Jason Linkins that we have Rachel Maddow to thank for showing us how the tax plan will affect Trump personally:

  11. [11] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Sean Hannity And Lou Dobbs Agree: Donald Trump ‘Pretty Close To Perfect’

  12. [12] 
    michale wrote:

    agree. i did not give him credit for the earlier gains, and i do not blame him for the current losses. we won't know for at least nine more months what trump's real effect on the economy has been.

    Yes, realistically, you are correct..

    But we're talking perception here..

    And the perception is that Trump is responsible. Like with gas prices...

    My only point is that the perception needs to be applied fairly... Otherwise, it's nothing more than Party bias at work...

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    My only point is that the perception needs to be applied fairly... Otherwise, it's nothing more than Party bias at work...

    are you willing to hold yourself to that same standard?

  14. [14] 
    michale wrote:

    I am.

    The perception is that Trump created the conditions that allowed those jobs to come into being or be saved...

    In other words, it's hard to visualize a scenario where NOT-45 would have been able to create the same environment, simply by virtue of the fact that she was the candidate of same ol, same ol...

    To form a realistic factual conclusion, we must wait until things shake out and really have a handle on what is what, as you indicate..

    In the here and now, perception rules...

    And the perception is that the president deserves the blame AND the credit.....

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    My only point is that the perception needs to be applied fairly...

    Let me have my fun - you've had months of gloating Michale ;)

  16. [16] 
    michale wrote:

    My beef is that rank and file Weigantians want to give him the blame but not the credit..

    Your and Liz's position vis a vis the Syria strike is another perfect example...

    When Trump does good, he should get the credit..

  17. [17] 
    michale wrote:

    Which you and Liz DID do...

    Sorry, 20 things going at once here...

  18. [18] 
    michale wrote:

    My only point is that the perception needs to be applied fairly...

    Let me have my fun - you've had months of gloating Michale ;)

    Touche' :D Fair enough..

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