Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Donald Trump and his mysterious STAR tax credit are back in the news. STAR is a New York state program that lowers the property tax bill for owners of primary residences. This year the amount of the credit is $304, and it’s available to anyone with a household income of less than $500,000.

Trump has been getting this credit for years. When it became public earlier this year, he naturally claimed it was all because of a city error and it was being fixed. Nothing is ever Donald’s fault, after all. But June 3 was property tax day in New York, and guess what? Aaron Elstein of Crain’s New York Business discovered that Trump was still getting his $304. Weird, huh? I mean, you have to apply for this credit, which means that Trump actively sought it out in the first place. But why would a guy with an income in the tens of millions do that? We’ll never know: the city of New York says that Trump’s application has gone missing. On the other hand, there’s this:

Hmmm. No need to reapply, but the city does check your income every year to make sure you still qualify. Trump did—and apparently still does. That’s just damn peculiar, isn’t it?

Now, unlike some folks, I don’t think Trump is too big a liar about his wealth. It’s probably nowhere near what he says it is, but there’s pretty good reason to think that his net worth is at least $1-2 billion and that his annual income is in the tens of millions. There’s just no way that he qualified for STAR. And yet, the state of New York checked for many years in a row and said he did. What does it all mean? Here’s my guess:

  • His income is pretty substantial, but he takes advantage of fancy tax accounting to reduce his taxable income to approximately zero. This is why he doesn’t want to release his tax returns. Even for his fans, this might seem a little obnoxious.
  • When he’s in the public eye, he’s a pathological show-off about his wealth: gold plated toilets, private jets, etc. But when he’s outside the public eye he’s a pathological skinflint. He applies for a $304 tax credit. He tries to weasel out of a $1 million donation to vets. He transfers the salary of his longtime personal bodyguard to his campaign. He’s bizarrely unwilling to make charitable contributions.

The guy’s just—wait. What’s that? We’re receiving more Trump news over the transom before I can even finish this post? Sigh. Sock it to me, Bloomberg:

An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists.

“We will overcome,” Trump said, according to two supporters who were on the call….When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.

“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said.

Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her….”Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”

“We will overcome”? Seriously, Donald? That’s the first phrase that comes to mind when you’re orchestrating an obscenely racist campaign to smear a judge of Hispanic heritage? Apparently so: “The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” he told the folks on the conference call. So I guess “we shall overcome” is totally appropriate.

For the record, Trump hired Erica Freeman six weeks ago to coordinate with his surrogates. I guess he’s already forgotten. Presumably she takes orders from Paul Manafort or some similar mucky-muck, so I guess they’re all idiots too.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across another person more a slave to their hormones than Donald Trump. No matter what the stakes, he just can’t rein himself in. He has to attack in the most boorish way imaginable and he can’t stop. Or maybe it’s worse: his hormones are OK except when the stakes are the highest. Jesus. Can you imagine what might have happened if Trump had been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis? That’s assuming you’d be alive to ponder this question, of course.

In other news, Hillary Clinton acted like a normal human being today and therefore got no press attention. All for the best, I suppose. When your enemies are digging themselves a hole, why take away the shovel?

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.