The New York Times released a report detailing Trump’s history with his taxes and revealed that he had not paid federal income taxes for 10 of 15 years. Paul Miller, Miller and Company’s Founder, joins The Final Round panel to discuss what the New York Times Report is saying about President Trump’s taxes and what it means as the November election looms.
- Welcome back to "The Final Round." Well, let's get to the new details on President Trump's tax payments. The New York Times reporting that President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the last 15 years. So for more on this, we have Paul Miller, founder of Miller and Company. And Paul, there's a lot to unpack in this New York Times report. Let me just first get your thoughts on the numbers, what we got from the New York Times, and really the revelations in this article.
PAUL MILLER: They talk about a tax return, but it's really difficult to determine how much money he made, how much in deductions he really took. They pick and choose the things that they want to talk about, that he only paid $750 in taxes. There's a big to-do about his major league refund of 72.9 million, but they don't get into what his gross revenue is, where are the deductions coming from. So it's really hard to decipher what's really transpiring. This is common when a person spends a lot of money in capital investment and he has real estate.
So he gets accelerated deductions. That's why, when they carved out the new law, they allowed real estate professionals to get the new deduction. But it's a lot of top, but you don't get the bottom. Like he says, he's transferring income to his daughter to get a deduction. Well, she's got to pay taxes on that money. So it's hard to really figure out exactly what his gross income is, how much did he really make, and where is his deductions coming from.
RICK NEWMAN: Hey Paul, Rick Newman here. I've pored over this report in the Times. One of the most interesting things to me is you can't tell where this information came from. And they're not even going to-- they say they're not even going to publish the documents because, if they did that, that would somehow give away the source that helped them get all this information. Do you a guess as to what kinds of documents these actually are? Because they don't appear to be tax returns themselves.
PAUL MILLER: I have no idea where they got the information from. It's like I said at the beginning. It's a very-- a lot of high-level information, and very little-- I mean, he must have spoke to someone on an anonymity process about what the person was able to tell them, because he doesn't get into-- whether or not he doesn't get into the very details of his tax implications or his tax deductions, or where he actually got this. I don't even know.
RICK NEWMAN: Although they say they're going to have a lot more stories coming over the next couple of weeks, so maybe we're going to get more of that. Just one other thing I'm interested in. Can you tell-- I mean, there is this-- there are a lot of tax breaks for developers. Does that seem to be the main way that Trump is lowering his tax bill, or could that not possibly explain all of it?
PAUL MILLER: I definitely think it is. He owns a lot of the real estate, but he also has a lot of golf courses, where they're capital-intensive. And that's where he's probably getting all of his losses from. They spin off a lot of money. I don't know how the casinos play into it because it says that he took a deduction, but yet he retained an interest in the casinos. So one of the deductions, it's contradictory that he fully wrote the deduction off, yet he still retained the 5% interest. I don't know how they got that information. It's very interesting, but I can't really answer that.
- Given the timing of this report's publication, I'm wondering, just based on the details that you've gleaned from this, do you see this potentially moving the needle here for voters who might be undecided? Or is there enough in the report and enough not actually answered in the report for those on either side to really just cherry pick details and interpretations that reaffirm their previously held views on President Donald Trump, whether they were a supporter or a detractor beforehand?
PAUL MILLER: I can't really give a person's opinion on how they may vote. I think if they don't like him, this may further enrage them that he's not paying any taxes, which pretty much we knew by him not releasing his tax returns. Is he not wanting to tell how much money he made or how aggressive he was as a tax deductor? The fact that he's still being audited for 10 years ago is very interesting to me, because the statute of limitation usually runs. So I'd like to know how he's still being audited for 72.9 million, which that would be interesting to me to find out if he's going to have to pay that back or not.
RICK NEWMAN: Hey Paul, could you just help our audience understand a little bit more about these tax breaks that developers get for losses or from the sale of a building? Does this seem like something that is sort of too easily abused and needs to be fixed, or does this incentive actually make sense if you're trying to design tax policy that would give you the-- you know, the best return on the economic investment?
PAUL MILLER: Well, when they passed the last tax bill, they passed that there are two professions that are eligible for what's called the qualified business income. One is an architect, and the other is a real estate professional. Hence, Trump's real estate professional, so he gets to exclude 20% of his net income, if he has net income, from his overall income.
But then there are other avenues that-- there's accelerated bonus depreciation, where you can write off a full asset in a whole year. And that's pretty unlimited. And then there's the section 179 that's limited. So they're giving enhancive deductions, not just to real estate, for the depreciation. It's across the board for every business, but real estate's a very intensive capital business that would give you a lot of deductions up front.
- All right, Paul Miller of Miller and Company, founder there, thanks so much for joining us.
PAUL MILLER: Thank you. Take care. Bye bye, guys.