Home Celebrity Donald Trump Gave Himself Tax Break for Helping Contest Winner

Donald Trump does say he’s worth more than $2.7 billion. On the most recent form 990 filing for his Donald Trump Foundation, the potential presidential candidate listed a $5,000 donation to a woman named Abby Feller among his over $900,000 worth of grants to institutions–not individuals. Her listing is nestled between “A Better Chance” and “Alzheimers Foundation.”

Noteworthy: Donald Trump didn’t donate any of his own money to the Donald Trump Foundation in 2009. One million dollars–$1,000,000–came from the World Wrestling Foundation. Another $50,000 was from the Charles Evans Foundation. And $4,000 came from something called Stark Carpet. This means that the $926,000 Trump gave away to Feller, as well as a bunch of big institutions, all of it came from other people. Not a penny of it was his.The only time he’s put money in the foundation was in 2008–and that was a mere $30,000.

Who is Abby Feller? She’s the 30 year old daughter of a prominent Philadelphia attorney, lives in New York, has a spray tanning business, and is engaged to a commercial real estate broker. In 2009 she  won a contest called “Donald Trump Will Pay Your Bills” on the syndicated program, “Extra.” When I asked Trump’s rep, Rhona Graff, why Feller’s prize money came from the Trump Foundation–which is for charitable, not marketing purposes–she replied by sending me legal wording about who can receive money from 501 c 3 organizations.

“… A grant to an individual for purposes other than those described in section 4945(d)(3) is not a taxable expenditure within the meaning of section 4945(d)(3). For example, if a foundation makes grants to indigent individuals to enable them to purchase furniture, such grants are not taxable expenditures within the meaning of section 4945(d)(3) even if the requirements of section 4945(g) are not met”

By Graff’s and Trump’s reasoning, the Foundation can send tax free money to individuals who are “indigent” for things like furniture. Feller tells me when she won the content with Trump she’d just moved to New York and had lost her job as a marketing director at BriteSmile. Was she “indigent”? Or just, technically, broke? Answer: broke. “Before the contest, I couldn’t afford to even get headshots,” she said. She’s also good at playing the “Extra” contests. Just a few months earlier, Feller had also won a $3,000 handbag on “Extra.”

One top notch accountant I spoke with, who handles lots of celebrity clients, laughed when I told him this story. “That’s marketing, not a donation. I wonder why he just didn’t write his own check and deduct it from his personal taxes?”

 

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