Former President Trump’s habit of manipulating the value of his properties in an effort to skirt taxes is causing problems for a public school district and local property owners.
The Daily Beast reported on Monday that Trump’s golf club in Westchester, New York, recently negotiated with the local government to reduce its value by one third — from around $15 million to $9.5 million — in order to slash its property taxes.
Trump has listed the value of Trump National Golf Club Westchester elsewhere — like on White House financial disclosure forms — as worth north of $50 million.
Because the property is now valued at a lower amount, the club is seeking a refund of approximately $850,000 from local governments on taxes it now says it overpaid. The vast majority of that amount, $588,155.12, will be paid by Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District, a small suburban district that includes a combined elementary, middle, and high school. In order to pay that money back to Trump, a local official told The Daily Beast that the government will need to raise taxes for people who own property in the area. “This is freaking annoying that a scoundrel won’t pay taxes,” the official told the outlet. “My taxes are higher because his taxes are lower.”
The village of Briarcliff has approximately 2,400 parcels of property on record, and property taxes will likely rise by an average $245 next year as a result of the club’s actions. This means local residents will effectively be subsidizing Trump’s golf course. The club was emboldened to pull this scheme because the same local government recently lost a court case against Sleepy Hollow Country Club in which a judge ruled that “there is no mandate to value golf courses or country clubs using any particular techniques.” The club is now exploiting that decision for his own profit.
In October, Rolling Stone uncovered another fiscal controversy at Trump’s Westchester golf course. After a storm flooded the course in 2011, it sought an almost $1.3 million insurance claim while only spending around $130,000 to $150,000 on repairs, according to insiders. The company actually tried to get more than the $1.3 million claim but the insurance company refused because the golf course failed to produce necessary receipts, a source said.
New York prosecutors are investigating Trump’s frequent attempts to lower his tax burden. The town of Ossining was subpoenaed last year by Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah, who is looking into the finances of Trump’s Westchester golf property, including its changing valuation, as well as the nearly $1.3 million insurance claim. New York Attorney General Letitia James is also running an investigation into Trump’s manipulation of his property values to dodge paying higher taxes.