Trump Casinos Paid Pennies on the Dollar in Taxes After Christie Deal, Says New York Times, But Is It True?

Posted on: August 17, 2016, 11:27h. 

Last updated on: August 17, 2016, 12:05h.

Donald Trump casinos were almost $30 million behind on tax payments to the State of New Jersey while the now-GOP presidential nominee was still running Trump Entertainment Resorts, says a new report that broke on Tuesday.

Donald Trump casino taxes Chris Christie
Deal or No Deal? A recent New York Times story implied that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (right) personally reduced Donald Trump’s casino tax bill in the Garden State from about 14 years ago. But would that even be possible? (Image: Chuck Burton/AP)

The New York Times says in a scathing article this week that Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City were delinquent on corporate alternative minimum taxes (AMT) to the tune of $8.8 million between 2002 and 2003. New Jersey implemented AMT in 2002. The Times says that Trump fought the tax bill and two of his four casinos underwent bankruptcy. New Jersey pursued the money and claimed, with interest, that Trump owed $29.4 million to its coffers.

Governor Chris Christie (R) assumed his position in the Garden State in 2010. The next year, Trump Entertainment Resorts and New Jersey reportedly reached a $5 million settlement.

The Times tries to make the case that Christie’s friendship with The Donald is the reason the state took 17 cents on the dollar, but the news site hasn’t produced any solid proof of such an arrangement.

“You can’t tell whether there’s something problematic, but it’s pretty striking that this one was written down so much,” University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor David Skeel told the Times, in what amounts to opinion at the end of the day.

The reality is that it’s highly unlikely, if not downright impossible, for one man to wipe another’s business tax slate clean. The State of New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury, Taxation Division, would be the overseer of such matters, and to imply that Christie could turn this around on his own steam would similarly imply that the state’s tax board was on the take.

Moreover, it’s far from unheard of for large tax assessments to be negotiated down the line.

Taxing Situation

Though Trump and Christie exchanged plenty of jabs during the Republican primary, once the New Jersey governor admitted defeat, he quickly offered support for the billionaire real estate tycoon. Once considered a frontrunner for the VP nod, Christie is now expected to assume a cabinet position, should Trump overturn the current polls and win the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.

Trump sits down today with the FBI for his first classified intelligence briefing. Christie will tag along for the meeting, as will retired Army Lt. General Michael Flynn. Candidates at this point of a presidential election begin receiving such information to better prepare the eventual winner for Day One in the Oval Office.

Many Trump opponents have expressed fears that the GOP candidate might tweet classified material. Conversely, Trump supporters point the finger back at Clinton and claim she’s already proven to be careless with confidential secrets, based on her recent FBI email server investigation, which proved she had sent out confidential information, despite her many denials.

This week, Trump also hired two new senior campaign staffers, Stephen Bannon as chief executive, and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. Paul Manafort retains his role as campaign chairman, at least for now, amid allegations that he helped a pro-Russia group in the Ukraine route $2.2 million to DC lobbyists in 2012.

Christie Supports More Casinos

When it comes to Christie, it’s quite clear he’ll be voting for Trump. He’ll also be voting for his state’s casino referendum to amend the New Jersey Constitution and authorize two land-based casinos outside of Atlantic City.

The governor recently said during a news conference that he backs North Jersey casino expansion and would campaign in support of the ballot question, if asked to do so.

According to the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University poll on the referendum, Christie’s position is in the minority. The most recent polling shows 58 percent of New Jerseyans remain opposed to the casino measure.