Donald Trump received a tax break for people who make less than $500,000 a year

Really rich?
Really rich?
Image: Reuters/Pool
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has never been shy about claiming a flair for moneymaking.

But his tax returns, which he has refused to release, may tell a different story.

Crain’s New York reports that the New York real estate developer and self-described deca-billionaire claimed a a New York state property-tax benefit reserved for individuals and couples earning $500,000 a year or less. The New York State School Tax Relief program, otherwise known as STAR, was first instituted in 1997, and offers a mere $300 annual tax break to those who qualify.

According to Crain’s, records filed with New York City’s Department of Finance indicate that Trump received a $302 STAR benefit on his latest property-tax bill for his penthouse unit at Trump Tower. “That means whatever his annual income is, it’s less than $500,000,” Crain’s reported. “And Trump would have to have declared his New York apartment as his primary residence and sent the state a copy of his federal income-tax return in order to quality for the $302 tax break.”

Trump’s campaign claims the benefit was “an error on the party of the city of New York,” and that the candidate has been receiving the benefit since 2012, even though he hadn’t filed for it since 2009. The Department of Finance denies this, saying it confirms recipients’ income with New York state tax authorities every year to ensure STAR applicants continue to qualify.

It’s possible Trump could earn a relatively small annual income and still be yuge-ly rich, however. Much of his wealth is tied up in the various properties he owns or has licensed his name to. It’s not liquid, but it’s real. Trump himself issued a financial statement upon declaring his campaign for the presidency, alleging his net worth to be $8.7 billion. Bloomberg News estimates it’s somewhere around $2.9 billion. Forbes says $4.5 billion.

Whatever the truth may be, Donald Trump is at least $302 richer thanks to the tax code of New York.