Five years ago, he had a golden opportunity to diversify his fortune. Fresh off the 2016 election, federal ethics officials urged Trump to sell his real estate assets. That would have enabled him to reinvest the proceeds in broad index funds and take office without a conflict of interest.
Trump decided to hold onto his assets. At the time, they were estimated to be worth $3.5 billion, net of debt. If he had chosen to sell everything instead, chances are he would have had to pay significant capital gains taxes. Trump acquired his five most valuable assets long ago, so he probably has huge untaxed gains locked into each of them. If he paid the maximum possible capital gains tax – 23.8% to the federal government, plus 8.8% to the New York State authorities on every penny he owned – that would have been about $1.1 billion of his fortune. have shaved, giving him $2.4 billion on the first day of his presidency. But what initially seemed like a huge sacrifice could have turned into a lucrative reshuffle. By plowing that $2.4 billion into an index fund that tracks, say, the S&P 500, Trump’s fortune would now have risen to $4.5 billion, making him 80% richer than he is today. His refusal to divest, in other words, cost him $2 billion.
Well, isn’t that what?
Yes, you and I both, Mr. Obama.
Of course, it’s fitting that Trump’s predictable sloppiness ultimately led to his defenestration of… Forbes’ exclusive penthouse since he lied on it in the first place. As Jonathan Greenberg talked about: The Washington Post in April 2018, Trump originally made his way onto the rich people list with the help of his alter ego, John Barron, who is distinguished from Trump only by a slightly altered speech pattern that is conspicuously missing from McNugget sauce-gargling sounds.
In May 1984, a Trump Organization official called to tell me how wealthy Donald J. Trump was. I reported for the third year for the Forbes 400, the annual ranking of America’s richest people. In the previous issue, we had valued Trump’s assets at $200 million, just one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide insisted on the phone, I had to understand how fraught Trump really was.
The official was John Barron – a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself. Recently, when I rediscovered and listened to the tapes I made of these and other calls for the first time since that year, I was surprised I didn’t see through the ruse: Though Trump changed some cadences and a slightly stronger New York accent, he was obviously . “Barron” told me that Trump had taken ownership of the company he ran with his father, Fred. “Most of the assets are consolidated to Mr Trump,” he said. “You’ve got Fred Trump down [as half owner] . . . but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.” Trump told me through this sock puppet that he owned “more than 90 percent” of the family business. With all the home runs Trump hit in real estate, Barron told me, he should be called a billionaire.
We’ll see if Trump, who seems to be plagued by legal troubles on all sides, can scare enough cheap, idiotic lawyers to file a lawsuit Forbes for hurting his fees. He once sued author Timothy L. O’Brien for claiming Trump wasn’t worth what he was worth — and it didn’t work out very well for Trump or his lavish claims of excessive wealth. He lost the suit and was exposed as an unusually prolific liar.
And of course, The New York Times’ The explosive September 2020 story of Trump’s tax returns revealed that he paid a paltry $750 in income taxes — when he paid taxes at all — and bled money like a hollowed-out pig. Oh, and he was also a chronic tax evader who owed all his success to his father.
I’d love to be a fly on Mike Pence’s head when those stories came out, just like I’d love to be one of the bed bugs at Trump’s Doral resort when he explodes this news. Because you know he will.
The only question? Will he try to do anything about it except sputter and spritz like the hulking goddamn loser he is?
It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and early author Stephen King shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump troll books. Get them all, including the final, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, Bee this link. Or, if you’d rather take a test drive, you can: download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.