The recent tax law changes benefit Trump. Big real estate developers like Donald Trump have long benefited from a myriad of legal loopholes and breaks that can shrink their tax bills. Their advantages expanded further with the federal tax overhaul that took effect this year. Even before the new tax law, the U.S. tax code provided loopholes and special breaks that favor wealthy real estate investors. Tax experts say they’re often able to claim losses more quickly and easily than other taxpayers. They are also afforded several ways of delaying or avoiding reporting profits to the Internal Revenue Service.
They can fall behind on their debts and still face fewer tax penalties for having the debt forgiven than other kinds of investors, according to Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy at the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy. Trump took advantage of that, Wamhoff says, when he couldn’t repay debts on his Atlantic City casinos in the 1990s and early 2000s. Wealthy families typically try to transfer some of their assets during their lifetime to ease the tax burden on their heirs. There are a number of ways to do so legally. As assets go, real estate is one of the most flexible options.
The recent tax law changes benefit Trump was also highlighted by a report in the New York Times, which suggests that the Trump family cheated the IRS for decades, using dubious tax maneuvers and outright fraud in some cases. A lawyer for the Trump family has disputed that claim of possible tax fraud or evasion and said that parts of the report are “extremely inaccurate.”
The U.S. has a long history of property ownership and related tax law, says Anne-Marie Rhodes, a professor at Loyola University Chicago Law School of Law. As real estate holdings have gotten more complex in recent years, so have applications of the law.