October 11, 2016


New Records Suggest Donald Trump Misled the Public About His Income : He says he made $694 million last year, but UK documents undercut that claim. (RUSS CHOMA, OCT. 11, 2016, Mother Jones)

Totaling up Trump's reported income on that form at the highest end of the ranges does yield a figure near $694 million. (At the lower end, it's closer to $600 million.) But the income listed on the form appears to be largely revenue--that is, the money a particular enterprise generated, not the profit--and not Trump's personal takeaway. The $694 million isn't what Trump pocketed at the end of the day; it's how much cash his various companies brought in before they had to cover expenses. The Office of Government Ethics guide for filling out the form even explicitly states "definition of investment income for purposes of financial disclosure is not tied to the Internal Revenue Service's definition of income for tax purposes."

There is no telling from this form what Trump truly made as income. But documents he filed overseas indicate there could be a great discrepancy between what he claimed at the debate and what he banked. These filings in the United Kingdom cover the operations of two Scottish golf resorts, one at Turnberry and one at Aberdeen. These courses are major enterprises in Trump's wide-ranging international golf empire.

According to his FEC financial disclosure form, which was submitted in May, Trump collected $296 million in "golf related revenue"--a full 42 percent of the income he cited in the debate. But this figure did not take into account the costs of running all his courses and resorts. Most of Trump's businesses, including his golf courses, do not have to publicly disclose how much revenue or profit they yield annually. But there are three exceptions: his two Scottish golf courses and one Irish course. Corporations in the United Kingdom and Ireland must submit public reports that list revenue, expenses, and profit.

Trump's FEC financial form noted that his two Scottish golf courses earned him a combined $23 million in "golf related revenue" last year, with Turnberry pulling in $18.1 million and Aberdeen making $4.8 million. But the public filings the courses submitted in the United Kingdom tell a much different story. Trump's prized course at Turnberry--where he made a much ballyhooed appearance right before the Brexit vote--reported $16.8 million in revenue in 2015 and $18.6 million in expenses. When interest, depreciation, and currency exchange losses are factored in, Trump's Turnberry course lost over $2 million in 2015. And the corporate filings in the United Kingdom show that Trump's Aberdeen course lost about $1.6 million.

That means that Trump's reported income on the FEC financial disclosure forms regarding just these two projects is $26 million more than what they actually made. If these courses are representative of Trump's overall finances--$23 million in "golf related revenue" is really a $3 million loss--his declared $296 million in total "golf related revenue" may well be highly overstated.

Posted by at October 11, 2016 2:49 PM