So the Tanning Bed Tyrant and his Queen Consort Melania are packing the bags and moving from New York to Florida. Presumably they’ll be taking their son Barron with them, but the 13-year-old didn’t even get to go to the World Series with his dad, so who knows?
The common assumption among the punditry is that Trump is doing this relo to decrease his tax bill and that would certainly seem to be in keeping with the Trump ethos. Recall the exchange between Hillary Clinton and Trump in one of 2016 presidential debates.
CLINTON: Or maybe [the reason Trump doesn’t release his tax returns is that] he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
Florida is surely a tax haven for the wealthy and Trump wouldn’t be the first plutocrat to set up shop in the Sunshine State solely for the purpose of lowering their liability. Florida has no personal income tax and no estate tax, for starters. So that would give the Trump family quite a break there, assuming they are paying something to NY in the way of income tax.
Another unusual quirk in Florida law would also give Trump some nice cover in the event he ever has to declare bankruptcy — again. He’s filed for bankruptcy six times. Because he’s so smart. In Florida, Trump can shield Mar-a-Lago from any bankruptcy proceedings, provided he can convince a judge that it is his personal residence and not a business. Florida tax law apparently does not address “den of corruption”.
Who knows, maybe Trump’s businesses are really hurting because he has so tarnished his “brand” and a post-presidency bankruptcy is in the cards. Can’t blame a man for planning ahead, can we? It’s just smart.
The arguments that this move is driven by tax considerations are compelling, but I think something else might be at play here. Check out his tweet announcing the official move…
“I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse.” I think he’s leaving in a snit. That would also be very much in keeping with the Trump ethos.
The bad treatment, of course, consists of a slew of criminal and civil investigations being carried out by various New York state and city authorities. Just consider …
- The New York Department of Financial Services is investigating his business for possible insurance fraud.
- The state Attorney General has any number of investigations going on, including accusations against the Trump charitable foundation and the Trump family (including Don, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric) for violating campaign finance laws and self-dealing. Their foundation has already been shut down by the authorities and the family has been barred from running another foundation or even serving on the board of any charitable foundation.
- The state AG is also investigating the Trump Organization’s habit of showing different financial reports to different agencies, at times inflating the value of properties and other times undervaluing, depending on whichever lie was most beneficial to Trump at the time.
- And the New York City district attorney is investigating the family and business for tax fraud. (There’s a useful guide, updated frequently, to all the various federal, state, and local investigations into Trump at The New York Times. There are currently 30 of them.)
So Trump is plenty pissed at New York (the feeling is mutual, according to reports) and it would be just like Trump to have a temper tantrum over such things. He’s taking his ball and going home. So there.
Moving to Florida, of course, won’t get Trump out from under all those investigations. If you commit a crime in New York, you can be prosecuted in New York no matter where you hang your bathrobe.
So the tax dodge angle is probably right, in the end. But I thought I’d take the opportunity of Trump’s announcement to remind us all that Trump’s corruption goes way, way beyond his Ukraine gambit. As the impeachment proceedings pick up steam, I think it’s important to keep in mind that Trump is, far and away, the most corrupt person ever to occupy the Oval Office. He came into office corrupt and he will leave office — one way or another — corrupt.
In other words, just being Trump is an impeachable offense.