Trump Is Giving Himself A Billion Dollar Tax Break & These Numbers Prove It

by Seth Millstein
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Although President Trump has claimed that the Republicans' tax reform legislation is "not good for me," a study commissioned by NBC News finds that the GOP's tax plan would save Trump's family $1 billion. The analysis is based on Trump's reported net worth and partial, previously available data from his tax returns.

Trump stands to personally save around $20 million if the tax plan he's endorsed becomes law, according to the analysis, largely because the legislation would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. Trump's heirs, meanwhile, would save a projected $1.1 billion under the Republican plan due to its repeal of the estate tax. The Alternative Minimum Tax is a parallel tax system designed to ensure that wealthy Americans pay a minimum tax rate regardless of their deductions, while the estate tax applies to transfers of money, property, and other assets to heirs after someone's death.

The tax experts arrived at these estimates by looking at the two pages of Trump's 2005 tax returns that MSNBC published in March; they also assumed that Trump's net worth is $2.86 billion, which is what Bloomberg estimates it to be.

There are some caveats to the analysis. For one, a full analysis of the tax plan's effect on the Trump family's finances was impossible, because Trump's full tax returns aren't public. It's also possible that Trump's net worth is not $2.86 billion, which would affect the math regarding the estate tax (Trump himself claims he's worth much more, while there are reports that he may actually be worth much less). Lastly, the GOP plan doesn't repeal the estate tax until 2024, so if Trump died before then, his heirs wouldn't benefit as much as the NBC News analysis suggests.

Nevertheless, NBC News' conclusion matches up with the general consensus among analysts that the wealthiest Americans would benefit greatly under Republicans' tax plan. It also contradict's Trump's frequent claims that his tax proposal wouldn't save him any money.

"Our [tax reform] framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected," Trump said in a September speech in Indiana. "I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me."

When asked later in the day whether he'd benefit under Republicans' tax proposal, the president replied, "No, I don't benefit."

"My accountant called me and said, 'You're going to get killed in this bill,'" Trump reportedly told a group of Democratic senators earlier in November.

Even before NBC News' analysis, PolitiFact ranked Trump's claim "false." Likewise, most voters have come to a similar conclusion: According to a Morning Consult poll released Wednesday, 56 percent of registered voters think that Trump will personally benefit from the GOP tax plan.

House Republicans passed tax reform with relative ease on Thursday, and Senate Republicans plan to vote on their own version of the legislation after Thanksgiving. However, the Senate bill faces a much steeper climb than its counterpart in the House.

Assuming every Democrat votes against the legislation, Republicans can only afford to lose three votes and still pass the bill with a bare majority. But they've already lost one: Sen. Ron Johnson, has come out against the legislation. In addition, Republicans are in very real danger of losing a Senate seat in Alabama to Democrats in an upcoming special election, as the Republican candidate in that race has been accused of sexual misconduct with teen girls, which he has denied.

If Democrats win that seat, tax reform will be just one vote away from failure. But even if it passes, tax reform won't be a sure thing, as the House and Senate will have to reconcile their respective versions of the bill into one uniform piece of legislation, and then pass it again, before it lands on Trump's desk.