The College Lesson From Fred & Donald Trump’s Tax Avoidance

This morning, in the “Upstairs Office,” I made it through about three-quarters of the New York Times piece about how Trump screwed the IRS, was propped up financially by his father and so on and so forth.

As I read it, I was struck by several thoughts, which I wanted to share (even if the mention of the word “Trump” will set off histerics for some of my readers).

First, I actually believed the substance of what was reported, the piece seemed very thorough.

Second, I did NOT necessarily take at face value that everything that Don and ol’ Fred did was illegal or fraudulent, such as lowballing values of real estate or setting up partnerships or other financial arrangements.

However, I’m sure, without any real basis, that many of these strategies were “murky” or aggressive.  My uninformed guess is that some might have been actually illegal.

But to be totally frank, I do NOT have a problem with anyone consulting their high-priced attorneys and accountants to figure out ways to reduce their tax bill.  To quote a famous Morgan Stanley advertisement, You must pay taxes. But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip.

So my issue is with the overall tone of the Times article and some of its insinuations, even assuming that it’s basically right.

If I were an accountant, I’d be a little ticked off.  If you follow the logic, nobody should take any deductions, and all accountants do is scr-w the IRS.  That’s ridiculous.

But for me, this is personal. Because Pearl and I are in a related business – we help parents find ways to cut their college costs.  We don’t use dubious partnerships or anything even remotely like the stuff in the NYT article, but the principle we operate under is the same that Fred and Don’s legal and accounting team used:

Pay us X, get X times 5 back in saved money.

Naturally, we don’t charge anywhere near what those advisors get, but we can offer you the same value proposition:  hire us to prepare your forms, identify any and all ways to optimize your eligibility for aid, negotiate with colleges and take care of the rest of the whole kit and kaboodle.

We have never recommended an overly aggressive or shady strategy, just the ones we’re comfortable with.  But I don’t judge anyone for pushing the envelope, that decision is up to each family  It’s personal.

There’s nothing wrong with doing everything legally possible to pay less in tuition…or taxes.  It’s not a Trump issue, nor is it a liberal or conservative one.   Heck, I bet that most journalists at the Times and elsewhere use accountants to lower their tax bills!

And I bet you wouldn’t need to be Woodward or Bernstein to expose a few questionable deductions by a random sampling of 10 journalists’ tax returns.

If you agree that it’s OK not to overpay for college, we’re running a promo this week.  Right now you can save 10% off our forms prep service.

Here’s where to sign up for our forms prep service

Use the coupon code “Boo” to save 10%, instantly, through the end of the weekend.

After you enroll, you’ll be whisked over to a thank you page that walks you through everything Pearl needs to get going on your forms, i.e. tax returns, basic biographical info, etc.  We’ve simplified and streamlined our process over the years to make it stress-free and easy for you.

We’d love to take this burden off your shoulders.

That wraps up today’s Deep College Thoughts!

-Andy “Paying Full Price is a Choice, Not an Obligation” Lockwood

P.S. The special ends this weekend.  And, based on Pearl’s mood, we may be shutting down our forms prep service entirely, temporarily or for the season.   If the link for our service doesn’t work, that’s the reason.

Go here to sign up

 

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