Poor House Donald

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June 9, 2016 5:11 p.m.

Donald Trump has a fabulous golf course out in LA, Trump National Golf Club. He says so himself. When it opened in 2006 he said the project cost a whopping $264 million, after buying it for $27 million four years earlier in bankruptcy. On his FEC disclosure he listed it as worth more than $50 million. But that’s not what he told tax assessors, where he pegged the value at just $10 million.

Now, every property owner wants as low an assessed value as possible since assessed value is the basis of property taxes. That’s why Trump is currently trying to stiff the taxpayers of Ossining, New York where he insists his golf course there is worth only $1.35 million, even though that course is also listed on his disclosure at $50 million.

But here it gets a bit more complicated. And here’s where the new exclusive from Variety comes in. A few years after the course opened Trump’s reps went to the tax assessor to request that the $21.8 million valuation be reduced to $10 million. The assessors didn’t see any reason to make the change until they saw the course’s balance sheets and found that it was underperforming.

From Variety

The course hosted 30,000 rounds of golf in 2008, at $190 apiece. Over the next two years, that figure dropped to 27,000 rounds and then 23,000 rounds — forcing Trump’s management team to cut average green fees to $167. Net income dropped from $1.4 million to $1 million over that period.

“It’s dropped in annual play significantly,” the county’s appraiser told the tax board. “The assessor recognizes this.” The assessors agreed to reduce the assessed value three years in a row, eventually getting down to $10.7 million. The course is apparently doing a bit better now, largely based on the recovery of the housing market. It’s currently assessed at $15 million. A valuation expert quoted by Variety says that courses like Trump National, even when they’re doing well usually sell in the $25 million range.

Now, it’s just one course. But it’s another example of how if you just kick the tires even a bit on any of Trump’s assets, the tires tend to fall off.

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