AccountingNews and PoliticsTaxes

Trump Accounting: cooking the books at the expense of the rest of us

Details are slowly emerging about Trump’s methods of accounting that place vastly different values on assets depending on the purpose of the report.  One example cited by the Washington Post is the Trump National Golf Club in In Ossining, New York:

  • The municipal tax assessor values the golf club at roughly $15 million.
  • Trump’s attorneys have filed papers with the state claiming that the full market value of the property is $1.4 million.
  • The financial disclosure released by the Trump campaign office this week values the property at “more than $50 million”.

trump3No explanation is provided for the difference of $48.6 million in the property valuation. Fortune Magazine reported on how such screwy accounting methods are hurting local governments in the locations of Trump’s 12 luxury golf courses that unabashedly cater to the very rich. The town supervisor in Ossining is quoted explaining how this accounting hurts the finances and upsets municipal budgets for the rest of us: “Everyone else has to pick up the difference … In this case, we are not the powerful. This is local government, vs. a real estate tycoon … So how do we get ahead?”. Meanwhile, Trump critics are quick to point out that Trump is either lying on his personal financial statement or lying to local tax officials.

Fortune Magazine writes: “How Trump handles the valuations on his golf properties—inflating their theoretical value to boost the perception of his wealth while simultaneously claiming local tax assessors are overvaluing the same courses—is just another window into how he’s run his campaign, as well as his casinos and other business over the years, as Fortune detailed here: Business the Trump Way.”

Working class Americans already have a term for this type of accounting; it is called “cooking the books”; a term commonly associated with white collar criminals.


It is no secret that I’ve been a critic of Trump for decades after he refused to pay many of his small business contractors in South Jersey, leaving some of them to file for bankruptcy. My friends and clients in the Ocean City New Jersey area were affected and it had ripple effects throughout our community. It was clear that there was no real business dispute; his refusal to pay was simply (and stated in a bold and unashamed manner) that he had better attorneys than any small business could afford. The story was covered by Reuters in 2015.

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