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Records reveal Trump’s property tax bill, differences in values

Voters haven’t seen presidential nominee Donald Trump’s federal tax returns , but Palm Beach County records show the billionaire businessman’s local property tax bill will top $1.2 million this year as a result of the burgeoning real estate market.

Just under 655,000 preliminary tax notices were mailed to Palm Beach County property owners last month alerting them of how much they can expect to pay in property taxes this year. The tentative amounts included on the notices are generally the maximum that local governments can charge.

Among the owners and businesses that received notices: Trump; his exclusive Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago; and his two golf courses in suburban West Palm Beach and Jupiter.

In all, Trump and his businesses would pay just under $1.2 million in property taxes this year unless cities, the county, the school board, and other special taxing districts reduce their proposed tax rates and fees before final tax bills are mailed this fall, records show. At that rate, Trump and his businesses would see their tax bills grow by about 6 percent this year, up from $1.1 million in 2015.

Mar-a-Lago and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter would pay the bulk of the property taxes.

County records show property taxes on Trump’s private Palm Beach club would total $413,779 this year if local governments don’t reduce their tax rates, up slightly from last year’s level of $411,176.

Trump’s golf club in Jupiter would pay $415,814 this year, up 14 percent from $362,490 in 2015, county records show.

There’s a lot more clarity to Trump’s property tax bill than to the value of his Palm Beach County properties.

The property appraiser’s office has set the market value of the properties owned by Trump and his businesses, excluding the leased property in suburban West Palm Beach, at just under $51.4 million — an increase of 4.3 percent over last year’s level.

But in federal financial disclosure documents, Trump has put the value of Mar-a-Lago and the Jupiter golf club at more than $50 million each.

Such discrepancies are common place in property valuations. The market values assigned to a parcel by the property appraiser’s office are typically less than what the property would bring if it is sold.

For example, Trump sold an oceanfront mansion to a Russian billionaire for a recorded $95 million in 2008 — after the housing market boom, but before the market hit rock bottom. As of January, the property appraiser’s office puts the market value of that property at $81.6 million.

Still, the spread between Trump’s valuations of Mar-a-Lago and the Jupiter golf club in federal documents is large.

Moreover, since purchasing the ailing club for $5 million in 2012, Trump’s company has sought to reduce its property tax bill. The golf club petitioned the county’s value adjustment board to reduce its assessment in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The readjustment petitions are often used by savvy property owners, particularly those with extensive real estate holdings, to fight for lower assessments. Last year, 5,584 petitions were filed with the value adjustment board, according to the clerk and comptroller’s office.

Trump will pay $192,683 in property taxes this year for three parcels he owns in Palm Beach, records show.

Although Trump International Golf Club leases the land for the suburban West Palm Beach course from the county, the agreement requires the company to pay property taxes on a portion of the site. This year, the proposed bill is just under $134,000, county records show.

Commissioners in 1996 agreed to lease Trump 215 acres of vacant land near the corner of Summit Boulevard and Congress Avenue for the golf club, after he agreed to drop a $75 million lawsuit over airplane noise at Mar-a-Lago.

In 2002, the commission agreed to lease Trump an adjacent 62-acre county-owned site.

Under the agreement with the county, the golf club is only required to pay taxes on the clubhouse building.

Final property tax bills bills are mailed by Nov. 1. Taxes become delinquent on April 1. Taxpayers who pay early get a discount. Those who pay in November get a 4 percent discount; December, 3 percent; January, 2 percent; and February, 1 percent.

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