Donald Trump routinely touts the income he’s reported on federal financial disclosure forms, as he has so far refused to release his tax returns.
But a New York Times analysis published Thursday of Trump’s tax appeals on several properties and other documents it obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests tells a much different story.
The Times found that the numbers Trump has disclosed mostly represent overall revenue, before expenses like mortgage payments, payroll and maintenance are taken into account. The newspaper noted that federal ethics law allows Trump as a business owner to report gross revenue on his disclosure forms, rather than net income.
Responding to the Times questions about how Trump reports his income, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said simply that the financial disclosure “speaks for itself.”
But the Trump campaign’s use of phrases like “Mr. Trump’s income” in press releases discussing the disclosures, which reported $362 million in income last year and more than $557 this year, speaks for itself, too.
“It shows income … in fact, the income — I just looked today — the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million,” the Times quoted Trump as saying in September’s presidential debate, inflating his reported income even further. “If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised.”
The Times analysis found “time and again, what the form presented as income did not match what was reported in other documents.”
For example, Trump listed the income for Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan as between $1 million and $5 million. But the Times reported that a 2015 property tax appeal Trump had filed showed the building had only $43,000 in net income for the year, after operating expenses and mortgage payments were subtracted from the initial $1.6 million in revenue.
On his financial disclosure, Trump also claimed $13 million last year in income on his disclosure from the Wollman and Lasker ice rinks. But the Times reported accounting figures provided by his company to the city show that number as gross revenue. Trump’s income on the rinks was not available, but the newspaper reported a 2011 city audit shows an average of $25,340 net income for both rinks after expenses over the previous three years.