What’s the largest personal stake a US president has ever had in legislation he signed into law? Whatever it was, it’ll be dwarfed by what Donald Trump’s signature will be worth — to himself — if Congress passes his proposed tax plan and puts it on his desk.
If that happens, Trump will be effectively cutting himself a check from the US Treasury for several billion dollars.
Call me cynical, but it seems that’s exactly what Trump has in mind. His plan just fits his tax situation — or what we know of it, without access to his tax returns — too perfectly.
The president’s tax proposal eliminates two taxes that mostly benefit the wealthy, and cuts a third tax roughly in half. That would bestow a windfall worth billions on the Trump family.
First, there’s the elimination of the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.
The AMT applies to taxpayers whose income tax liability otherwise would be reduced excessively by certain deductions, including deductions commonly claimed by real estate owners like Trump. It’s like an alternative tax system in which the rates are lower but fewer deductions are allowed.
The one glimpse we’ve had of Trump’s tax returns suggests he stands to benefit massively from the repeal of the AMT. In 2005, Trump’s income exceeded $150 million, but his regular tax liability was just $5.3 million — that’s barely a 3.5 percent tax rate.
But the AMT increased Trump’s tax liability that year by over $31 million. Had Trump’s tax plan been in effect in 2005, it would’ve saved him that $31 million.
Still, that’s chump change in comparison to the tax windfall he hopes to bestow upon himself by cutting the top tax rate on the bulk of his income by more than half, from nearly 40 percent to 15.
We’re not talking about the corporate tax rate here. Trump could reap a tidy personal benefit…