DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Investigation

Trump: The Least Charitable Billionaire

The Donald is a miser, not an “ardent philanthropist.”


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Trump Tax Returns

APRIL 12--During the recent Comedy Central roast of Donald Trump, the presidential aspirant used his rebuttal time to remind the audience--and a dais of tormentors--that he had “seven billion fucking dollars in the bank.” He delivered this rebuke with the kind of pure joy seen when a boy discovers Santa has brought him a puppy for Christmas.

More than his towering ego, vituperative tongue, or peculiar hairstyle, money has defined Trump during the 30-plus years he has spent in the public eye. He frequently brags of his billions, and even sued a journalist who had the nerve to question whether those 10-figure pronouncements were severely inflated.

Now that Trump is again threatening to run for president--and has, for the first time, gained some political traction thanks to his embrace of the “birther” movement--The Smoking Gun has examined how the 64-year-old developer has spent some of that massive fortune. Specifically, Trump’s philanthropy over the past 20 years, which has been channeled through the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

A TSG review of the group’s Internal Revenue Service returns dating back to 1990 reveals that Trump, the foundation’s president, may be the least charitable billionaire in the United States.

How miserly is The Donald?

From 1990 through 2009, Trump has personally donated a total of just $3.7 million to his foundation, which was incorporated in 1987. In fact, the billionaire is not even the largest contributor to his own charitable organization.

Tax returns show that World Wrestling Entertainment has given Trump’s foundation a total of $5 million in return for the developer’s assistance in working a couple of televised angles along with WWE boss Vince McMahon. The WWE gave Trump’s foundation $4 million in 2007 for his help in promoting that year’s WrestleMania festivities, and another $1 million in 2009, when Trump (pictured below with McMahon) pretended to purchase part of the WWE empire. 

The real estate titan’s foundation has also banked $205,000 from media outlets and supermarket tabloids in return for exclusive photos (People magazine, for example, paid the foundation $150,000 in 2006 for the first shots of Trump’s newborn son Barron).

During the past two decades, the Trump foundation has made charitable contributions totaling a paltry $6.7 million.

Both the amount of money Trump has donated to his own foundation as well as the aggregate contributions made by the not-for-profit group are pitiful when compared to the philanthropy of other high-profile tycoons like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, David Geffen, or S.I. Newhouse.

For example, in 2008 alone, Bloomberg’s charitable contributions totaled $235 million. In 2009, Ellison gave his medical foundation stock worth $73.2 million, according to IRS records. Newhouse’s foundation reported making donations totaling $11.8 million on its 2009 IRS return. And a tax return filed last year revealed that the late entertainer Johnny Carson even left his charitable foundation $156 million.  

Trump’s miniscule donations have also been dwarfed by the charitable contributions of Leona Helmsley, whom Trump took great pleasure in mercilessly skewering. Helmsley, who died in 2007, left billions to her charitable trust, which last month alone made donations totaling $12.93 million (or nearly twice what Trump’s foundation has donated in the past 20 years).

In the aftermath of national tragedies like September 11 and Hurricane Katrina--when public figures worth a fraction of Trump were donating seven figures to relief organizations--the billionaire apparently misplaced his checkbook somewhere in his triplex atop Trump Tower.

Helmsley, by comparison, gave $5 million to the American Red Cross when New Orleans was submerged, and, post-9/11, she gave $5 million to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund.

In 2006, Trump’s foundation did give $1000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Fund, a controversial Scientology program (co-founded by Tom Cruise) that promoted a “purification rundown” for firemen and others who inhaled toxins while working near the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center.

While the Trump foundation’s 2010 tax return won’t become public until later this year, it seems unlikely--if history is any indication--that any groups providing aid in the wake of last January’s Haiti earthquake received money from the billionaire.

Philanthropy, of course, is not the sole province of a particular political party. Both George Soros and the Koch brothers--boogeymen from the left and right, respectively--are remarkable philanthropists. Nor is Trump, or anyone else for that matter, required to donate a penny to charity.

But for whatever reasons--gratitude, empathy, naming rights, religious beliefs, guilt, good publicity, take your pick--the country’s wealthiest families have historically helped fund hospitals, libraries, research facilities, museums, schools, and cultural institutions via significant contributions and/or recurring pledges.

But for Trump, the only buildings bearing his name have tacky gold gilding and are stuffed with overpriced condominiums.

Donations from the billionaire’s foundation appear to be mere crumbs falling from his overflowing plate. In 2009, the group--flush with WWE cash--gave $26,000 to the American Cancer Society, $5000 to the Alzheimer’s Association, $6000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and $250 to the Special Olympics. Trump, an avid golfer, also donated $100,000 apiece to the Tiger Woods Foundation, the William J. Clinton Foundation, and a hospital foundation connected to Arnold Palmer. Trump also donated $75,000 to the foundation of golfer Annika Sorenstam, $5000 to Golf Pros Beating Cancer, and $1000 to the Metropolitan Golf Association Foundation.

Trump has also been a regular contributor to the foundations of New York Yankee Derek Jeter and ex-Bronx Bombers manager Joe Torre, as well as the New York Jets Foundation. And while he has donated $25,000 to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, Trump also wrote a $5000 check to the Edward M. Kennedy Center for Study of the United States.

The recipient of the largest single Trump donations has been the United Way of New York City, which received $250,000 in 2004 and 2006. The Police Athletic League has also received large donations from Trump, who sits on the group’s board of directors.

On his web site, Trump describes himself as an “ardent philanthropist” whose charitable activities are “an integral part of his ethos. He is the archetypal businessman, and an icon of New York.” Oh, he is also “the most recognized businessman in the world,” a trailblazer whose “acumen is unrivaled, and the diversity of his interests has set a new paradigm in the world of business.”

Strangely, though the billionaire’s web site chronicles every aspect of his life in great detail--children, books, golf courses, Trump chocolate, Trump bedding, beauty pageants, Trump spring water, Trump bath rugs--his purported “ardent” philanthropy is not further described. Which is odd, considering Trump--whose superlatives have their own superlatives--has never been shy about gassily trumpeting every last one of his world-beating achievements.

Such modesty would be refreshing were it valid. (5 pages)

Comments (51)

What a man does with money he earns is his own business. Also, I would vote for Trump for Pres. if he desides to run, mainly due to the fact he doesn't believe in throwing money away. A very good characteristic for stopping the waste of goverbnebt spending. No more give, give, give to people who are not deserving of it. No more billions to forign countries i.e. Haiti disaster, to which our former presidents Clinton and Bush collected Billions in donations from the American people which has never been accounted for. When asked they refuse to discuss it or appear on T.V. to tell what happened to it. No more middle of the night handouts to Black Farmers which ended up in Billions spent on fraud, handled by our now president Obama. No more stimulus, or give aways. I look forward to someone who knows how to control his money to take charge of the peoples money and put us back on the right track. As far as Trump not know much about forign affairs and such, neither does Obama. That is why they have a Cabinet of knowledgable men and women. Go Trump, The people are quite ready for your CHANGE.
What a joke - you, sir, are an idiot.
yeah, you're crazy.... No thanks and I am not one to vote for a guy who has filed bankruptcy 6 times (at least), lies, is dishonest, and has no credibility whatsoever....... As far as the Clinton and Bush Haiti Fund goes, I don't think you know what you are talking about and that money went to Haiti. You're just trying to make up a story so you can make Mister Bad Hairpiece look good..... Hell, he's never held political office ever before so he's less than qualified and he's a huge liar!
What percentage of his income does Trump pay in taxes? If I were forced to make "voluntary" tax "contributions" in the amount he must make, I wouldn't want to give any more, either. The bulk of charitable donations most likely go to the Evil Poor who vote for politicians who impose obscenely high taxes on the so-called "Haves." Politicians buy votes from the electorate by promising to redistribute the wealth of the "Haves." Once these corrupt politicians are elected, the people who voted for them don't care what they do as long as the "free" goodies keep coming their way.
^ Fox news puppet.
Trump is a blow heart. He is a big mouth spoiled rich kid that got super rich because of his Daddy. Oh sure, he improved on Daddys wealth, but he would have never gotten to bed all those super models if daddio hadn't been himself a multumillionaire New York real estate developer with vast political connections. Gee, what are the odds? If not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth he would be selling used cars and going to bed with a 200 pound wife named Agnes that would probably be as bald as he is. So, lets not tell the world what a super genious you are, or what a great ladies man you are as well. You are what you are, a guy who at 22 just out of college got lucky because his connected old man arranged for him to buy an almost million dollar apartment building to get started (Amazing, I couldn't even qualify for a Sears card when I got out of college) and the Baby Boomer real estate expostion happened. Not rocket science, just the oldest story in the book. Takes money to make money, in this case, Daddies money. Your no smarter then everyone else, you just think so, and I sure as heck do not want you running for my president. The only thing I want you do do for me is to shut up.
"Trump: The Least Charitable Billionaire" Has anyone at TSG ever HEARD of Steve Jobs?
Why do you think that it is your business how Donald Trump spends HIS money on charity?? How much do you give? I think that any wealthy self made person that is in a rush to give away his money has some serious self worth problems and has been browbeaten by the socialists into believing he "owes" a debt to those who have less. Unless he is a devoted, avid follower of Christ and follows the order to " Give all ye have to the poor, and follow me...", the rich person has no way to explain his wasting his resources. Don't trust those who hate the rich and covet their money...they speak with forked tongue.
Trump is not a "self made person." He was born wealthy.
Yup, you are soooo correct her my friend.
But it's always ok to trust the plutocrat.
Trump is a vulgarian. A phony whose "conservative values" don't apply to his multiple marriages or bankruptcies. The people who like him, are the same who think they can win at his casinos (NY Magazine called them "clip joints"). His "birther" nonsense, is to appeal to the easily manipulated, even tho he knows it's a lie. I think he will help President Obama to a second term.
I couldn't agree more. If this is the best that GOP has to offer, they are in serious trouble.
I admire Trumps control over how he spends his money, doesnt just give it away. He shows discipline, control...which is what this country needs in the White House. Trump for President!! 100% American!! He will put America first.
Actually, what this article shows is that he is incapable of putting anything other than himself first. A president whose credo is "me, me, me"? Is that really what you want?
First thing he has to do is get a Revolutionary War uniform and a Paul Revere hat.
It is interesting when people say things like, "I think you missed the point of this article", etc. etc. See this is exactly what most American's, the self thinking do not need. I personally do not need a person to make up my mind for me. Sure enough the article has been written, shored up with so-called "facts" and what next? We are supposed to automatically believe what was written, just because it was written? Seriosuly. I think the author of this "article" should make it clear this is an opinion oriented editorial, because the author has ABSOLUTLEY NO idea what Donald Trump may have given "in secret" without reporting it on his income tax. I know that I have made contributions and not reported them as well as others. Furthermore, the real question concerning this article should be: What is the motive of the author? I believe that is so plainly seen, that most American's would not spend the time as I have to even respond to such plain, biased, criticism. Good luck in your future writing, your going to need it. Another note: His life isn't over, how do you know what he will do with the fortune he amassed once he has passed from this life? Sorry author, in my book and many other's you have failed. In my opinion you get an F! By the way, many American's are tired of the rhetoric. And seriosuly, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Goodness, if some of the people in our society were to have it their way- they would make up the minds of all of the people of the United States. And last but not least, what is wrong with questioning? When I was a child I was taught that asking questions is a good thing. Donald Trump had the courage to resound the question many Americans have been thinking all along, and now what? He must be silenced? Im not buying it.
I must apologize for not reading your whole comment. It was much too boring.
Hooray for Donald. We are much too stupidly charitable.
I thought it was common knowledge that (most) rich people only make donations and start charities for the tax breaks.
Don't follow me, I'm a nobody- a your own independent research...
I think most of you missed the point of this article. The article is meant to point out the hypocrisy between Mr. Trump's self-promoted public persona (an “ardent philanthropist” whose charitable activities are “an integral part of his ethos") and the documented activities of his charitable foundation. It's not about "the big bad liberal media beating up on a poor rich Republican." I don't think TSG really cares how much Mr. Trump gives to charity. It's possible that Mr. Trump is donating more money directly to other charitable projects and not running it through his charitable foundation, but running his donations through his charitable foundation has its own tax benefits (deduct salaries of employees, operating expenses, etc) that would make it highly likely that any large donations would go through the foundation. (Maybe he writes his own checks for the donation plate at church...)
Yea for The Donald. He earned it why the hell should he give it away. Gee, what a concept for a presidential move too. Disaster in some backward, US hating country? Don't send them a dime. I am all for that approach. Let's return this country to the once great nation it was with a strongwilled leader that isn't giving away the farm just to try to buy friendship.
Can't say I'm really shock since he did win Spy Magazine's "America's Cheapest Zillionaire" contest (actually tied for first place with an arms dealer). Pretty amazing that he signs all his $0.13 checks. You'd think he'd just have one of his hookers do it for him.
I did not even have to read this to know it was going to be a hit piece. All I had to do was look at the picture chosen. This wrtiter is so venimous about Trump there's no way it was going to be objective. NEWS FLASH you jealous people: MOST BIG MONEY GIVERS DO NOT LIST THEIR CHARITIES .So no matter how much Trump has given its wayyyyyyyyyyyyy more than the Obama's or the Biden's have in comparison.
Damien Ricketts on the Donald. Donald Trump is a billionaire a savy business man and graduate of Wharton Business School. He is not required to give away his money to any charity, however how can we hope to elect a man to lead a country that has only given 3.7 million dollars of his billions to his own charity. That is a little selfish. Damien Ricketts Says at least be honest with us Donald admit your not a giver but that you do have the business success, savy and ability to run our country. Honestly I believe that you could do a good job leading us out of a financial crisis you could possiblly work well in the adminstration on an advisory roll, but I am not yet convinced you woulr make a great world leader. Donald Convince us. Thank You Damien Ricketts
I think that Trump is a dope, but since when is anybody obligated to donate their money to anything??????? It's his money and since I'm assuming that we still live in America, isn't he free to do with it what he pleases???? Are we next going to tell people who they can and can't donate to???? This article is stupid.
lol, the only thing Trump is full of, is himself.
LOL crying about how much he's donated? Nice try whiny liberal. You do your boss Ted Turner proud.
Trump/Palin - 2012 - A boy can dream. How can you make it any easier for us.
Big Hair + Big Ego = Big Mouth
This is a poorly written story in my opinion and I have no interest in defending or attacking Trump. But, the writeup should compare donations made by the charity in comparison to the assets within the charity. This percentage doesn't necessarily have anything to do with whether Trump or his Foundation (different entities which should be evaluated separately) might be "miserly". Most foundations give a small amount of money away each year and use the investment income of the remaining assets plus contributions by donors to fund the following year's donations to the end recipients. The story also does not state how much Trump has given to the foundation, either initially to set it up or throughout its existance. "Miserly" headlines sound interesting but at least make it a balanced writeup.
@baseball - did you read the article? you say: "The story also does not state how much Trump has given to the foundation, either initially to set it up or throughout its existance." but the article clearly says: "From 1990 through 2009, Trump has personally donated a total of just $3.7 million to his foundation, which was incorporated in 1987." it's true they don't say how much he gave from 87 to 89, but they do say how much he has given for the last 20 years.
@joshs Do you know Donald Trump? Do you think everyone reports the contributions they have made on their income tax. Some are living by a higher standard. Bill Gates and the like are the ones flauting what they have or are giving away to make themselves feel good and look good. A person who gives with good, pure motives does not flaunt their giving.
I hear your point on the "just $3.7m over 20 years", but what if (e.g. there is no truth to this comment) someone setting up a foundation gave $300m the year before that. Would that person still be considered "miserly" regardless of the mere $3.7m over 20 years in additional donations? Does Trump have any other foundations or major charities he donates to? I don't know from this story. I'll stick with my conclusion that the author did not do sufficient homework to make his "miserly" case. my 2c.
Good points baseball. In addition, I expect that true "journalists" would have presented their findings to Trump BEFORE printing the story and including his response in the story. Otherwise it is just "trust me" .
Republican tea baggers have successfully blinded the US Citizen tax payers against seeing the entire truth concerning our fiscal responsibilities...the majority of your tax goes to support DOD, military as well as the CIA secret budget and initiatives. Guam, US Virgin Islands, Marshal Islands and Puerto Rico are all US territories and we provide our territories with plenty financial support not reported to the general public. What is the GNP for Guam, US Virgin Islands, Marshal Islands, Puerto Rico????Right... Don't believe all the hype from politicians, zealus females seeking power nor over inflated failed business people with bad hair pieces.
Thanks for setting us straight. I guess I didn't realize I could ignore all other published independent sources and just get my facts from Mo Ma'- because clearly you have no slant or bias.
i think it is funny anyone would, republican or democrat, rush to defend trump. Of all people, is this the guy anyone wants to represent their party? He's a side show joke of a candidate. He's a reality TV star for goodness sake. A guy who uses the fact that he "screwed over" Gadhafi on a real estate deal as an example of his foreign policy experience. Republicans beware--this guy makes your party, already fractured and confused, look even worse. He doesn't have to be stingy to be a joke of a proposed presidential candidate; he has that covered.
I am a republican (by party affiliation, not by blind obedience to party will) and I couldn't agree more with you. However I honestly don't think he will carry any serious consideration for nomination. I see this as more of a media "fun and games" stunt. You have to admit it's working, because here we all are talking about it.
You do know, don't you, that under IRS rules, a "private foundation" such as that run by Trump or other wealthy people MUST give away at least 5% of its capital every year or risk being taxed. You can't just dump money into your "private foundation" and escape income taxation on it unless you give SOME paltry portion of it away, like 5%. This explains the small contributions Trump's made above. It wasn't out of the goodness of his heart, rather the minimum he has to do under IRS rules to have a huge tax reduction benefit from charitable contributions which are deductable from income taxes.
There must be someone out there who received a donation of $1.07 to put them over the 5% mark.
Typical "every man for himself" bandwagon Republicans like to hop on to excuse themselves for being egocentric, self-aggrandizing, self-appointed demigods. When will their tiny little brains evolve enough to see past their own self? Republicans are clueless pink-faced half wits, too clueless to have the responsibility of spending money.
I am glad he is tight with his money. I pay my own way as should others. This would be the top reason I would vote for him. Cut off all the blood sucking liberals draining my tax money and future Social Security.
Yes, the "blood-sucking liberals." You may want to read some easily accessible documentation about how blue states (that means liberal/democrat) pay more to the federal government then they receive, while red states (that means conservative/republican) receive more from the federal government then they pay. It seems that, not only are conservatives the greatest blood-suckers in this awesome nation of ours, they whine the most about government spending. Go figure. There are a lot of web sites that back this up. Remember this; education will set you free. Happy learning!
Damn! I didn't realize that TSG was run by a bunch of liberals. As soon as Trump starts getting attention for asking questions on Barry's birth certificate, here come the negative articles to slam him. Such a shame. The media bias and never-ending love for the long legged mack daddy has no end - even at a site like TSG. Who cares what he gives to charities? Most charities spend all of their money on their executives and administration and very little money actually gets to those that it is intended for.
Quit your whining..... I can't believe you don't think he's ridiculous by the BS he caused with asking for the President's BC and trying to make a big deal about the issue and even make lies that he has people investigating. You must be another inbred birther.... I love how you idiots always decry something as liberal whenever you don't agree with it.... The "long-legged mack daddy"??? Quoting that nutcase, James David Manning.... Love to see you have great role models.....
I just can't wait till the bookies in Vegas run a line on the odds of Trump being elected......I'm putting 100 bucks on the weird haired one to should pay off in the billions.....
ohsure...the Koch brothers and Michael Bloomberg are not LIBERALS!!!!!
Well, let's see here - the names you gave are all, or almost all, LIBERALS!!!!! Small wonder they think nothing of giving away their money, your money, my money . . . . .