President Trump changes residence to Florida “primarily for tax purposes”: report

Florida has no state income or inheritance tax, thus allowing the president to avoid New York's high tax rates

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published November 1, 2019 11:52AM (EDT)

President Donald Trump at the White House, Oct. 24, 2019.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump at the White House, Oct. 24, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump quietly changed his primary residence from New York to Florida in September, according to documents filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court and obtained by the New York Times.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump both wrote Palm Beach as their new primary residence in a “declaration of domicile” listing the Mar-a-Lago resort as their permanent residence. White House officials declined to say why Trump changed his address, but one person close to the president told The Times that the reasons were “primarily for tax purposes.” Florida, which has no state income tax or inheritance tax, has been a popular relocation destination for wealthy New Yorkers.

The document says that Trump “formerly resided at 721 Fifth Avenue,” the address of Trump Tower in Manhattan. An attachment lists his “other places of abode” as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.

Trump has already spent 99 days at Mar-a-Lago since his inauguration, compared to 20 days at Trump Tower, according to NBC News.

The president confirmed the move on Twitter, where he complained that he was “treated very badly” despite paying “millions of dollars” in taxes.

“Few have been treated worse,” he wrote. “I hated having to make this decision, but in the end it will be best for all concerned. As President, I will always be there to help New York and the great people of New York. It will always have a special place in my heart!”

Since moving to the White House, Trump signed a tax cut bill that eliminated a tax deduction for residents of high-tax states like New York, which effectively raised taxes on millions of middle-class families in the state.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, hailed Trump’s move from the city.

“Good riddance,” he tweeted. “It’s not like Mr. Trump paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”

The move could save Trump millions, though it is impossible to know how much, since the president has not released his tax returns. In New York, he is locked in a legal battle with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who issued a subpoena for the president’s tax returns amid a probe into hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have affairs with the president. Trump has repeatedly denied those claims.

If the president spends less than six months per year in New York, he could avoid paying the state’s top tax rate of nearly 9 percent and the city’s top tax rate of nearly 4 percent. He could also save millions for his children by avoiding New York’s top inheritance tax of 16 percent.

“What he’s doing is not any different than what a lot of individuals from New York are doing, and they’re becoming Florida residents,” Florida attorney David Pratt told The Times.

Trump has frequently complained about the state’s high taxes.

“On top of ridiculously high taxes, my children and companies are spending a fortune on lawyers” to defend themselves against state investigations, Trump tweeted in July. “No wonder people and businesses are fleeing New York in record numbers!”

But in January, Pratt and other lawyers wrote at the Florida Bar Journal that many New Yorkers were fleeing to Florida in “large part” because of Trump’s repeal of the state and local tax deduction.

Trump will also have to prove that he has not spent more than 184 days in New York each year in order to avoid the state’s taxes.

“While it may be easy enough for an individual to buy a home in Florida and move, the act of physically moving to Florida is only part of the battle,” the Florida Bar Journal piece noted. “The real challenge is proving by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is no longer a New York domiciliary and does not qualify as a New York statutory resident for New York State income tax purposes.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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