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Here’s What Trump’s Financial Disclosure Doesn’t Tell You

(Source: www.forbes.com)

President Trump released his annual personal financial disclosure on Wednesday. The 92-page document lists the president’s relationships with 565 corporate entities, hundreds of sources of income and more than a dozen loans held by American and foreign lenders.

But it’s far from a thorough accounting of Trump’s businesses, debts and conflicts of interest. Here are a few key things you won’t find in the report:

1. How much money Trump’s businesses are really making.

Trump must disclose his web of corporations and the income they generate. But federal laws, drafted without envisioning a real estate billionaire as president, require a level of detail that’s hardly illuminating.

First, Trump is allowed to list his companies’ revenues—the total income they generate before deducting for any expenses—rather than profits. So while we can get a sense of how much business Trump’s companies are doing, we don’t know much money is actually flowing to the Trump Organization and, ultimately, to the president.

And, while Trump has elected to divulge exact figures—mainly for his hotel and golf course revenues, fees and condo sales—he only lists revenues in broad ranges for most of his companies.

We only know, for example, that Trump is earning somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million million to license his name to a pair of towers in Istanbul. And when it comes to the president’s most important assets, the range is even less helpful since the highest category listed on the forms is “over $5,000,000.” A sensible cutoff for previous presidents, perhaps, but not for America’s first billionaire commander-in-chief. More than 20 Trump corporations—including holding companies for Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and Trump’s Westchester golf course—fit into the top range on Trump’s most recent disclosure.

Exactly how much money the Trump Organization is earning from many of its properties, and how that figure compares to past years, remains unspecified on the document. Only through a deep investigation into Trump’s tenants was Forbes able to find that Trump Tower’s “over $5 million” in revenues, for example, is really at least $25 million.

2. Who is paying the president.

What’s more, Trump doesn’t even have to reveal who’s paying him these hefty sums. He must disclose the companies he owns—but not the hundreds of businesses pouring money into them.

Trump Tower, for example, rakes in an about $21 million in rent from its biggest tenant, Gucci, an Italian company. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, which is majority-owned by the Chinese government, pays Trump an roughly $2 million in annual rent for its office on the tower’s 20th floor. Yet the details of these payments—including their foreign origins—are not outlined at all on the president’s financial disclosure.

The same rules apply to income from other arms of the Trump Organization. The form does not require Trump to list who he’s doing business with, even if his companies were to sell a condo to a Russian oligarch, rent his beach house to a political donor or charge a foreign official to stay at Mar-a-Lago or his Washington D.C. hotel.

3. A full picture of Trump’s debt.

Federal disclosure rules require Trump to list debt he personally owes—but not debt his companies owe. Trump, however, has elected to disclose some of his corporate liabilities, providing a partial picture of his debts.

The president disclosed at least $311 million in debt across 16 loans from 9 creditors, including Merrill Lynch and Germany-based Deutsche Bank—but there’s more to it than that.

For one, Trump does not list the debt on any property where he doesn’t own a 100% stake. That means the mortgages on two of the president’s most valuable holdings—buildings he owns alongside publicly traded REIT Vornado Realty Trust—don’t appear on the form. Trump owns 30% of 1290 Avenue of the Americas, a midtown Manhattan office tower with a $950 million mortgage, and 555 California Street, a three-building complex in downtown San Francisco with a $567 million mortgage. He does not disclose either property’s debt, his share of which amounts to $455 million in additional liabilities.

Plus, Trump also discloses the originator of his loans but does not detail whether others have since bought the debt. For example, Trump lists four loans arranged by Ladder Capital Finance, but Ladder Capital has packaged all of that debt with other real estate financing and sold it off to investors.

4. The actual value of any of Trump’s major holdings.

Trump is only required to list the value of his holdings in broad ranges, similar to how he reports the income that these assets generate. Again, the ranges are unhelpful, topping out at “over $50,000,000”—a cutoff that only serves to obscure the true size of a billionaire’s fortune.

On his latest disclosure, Trump lists 24 assets as simply being worth at least $50 million—everything from his tower at 40 Wall Street (which Forbes estimates to actually be worth $345 million net of all debt) to Trump Tower ($245 million) and Mar-a-Lago ($160 million). According to the form, we only know that these mega assets are collectively worth at least $1.2 billion; in reality Forbes estimates they’re worth about $2.75 billion.

“[The form] wasn’t meant for me,” Trump admitted to Forbes back in 2015. “It was meant for a politician.

5. What Trump and his companies pay (or don’t pay) in taxes.

The document, which is intended to outline potential conflicts of interest, does not touch on the subject of taxes at all. Trump is not required to disclose what he or his companies pay in local, state or federal taxes. For that, we’d need to see the president’s tax returns, which he has refused to disclose.

More Info: www.forbes.com

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