Trump University put out a book on tax avoidance
It's called "Asset Protection 101: Tax and Legal Strategies of the Rich"
For all of their disagreements, Donald Trump and President Barack Obama have one thing in common: They believe the tax code is convoluted, overly complicated and in need of dramatic change.
But until that happens, Trump’s line of business provides no shortage of ways to defer, downsize or outright dodge the IRS – and all legally. Many are laid out in this book under the banner of Trump University, the now-defunct Trump educational organization. It’s called “Asset Protection 101: Tax and Legal Strategies of the Rich,” and here are some of its highlights.
1. Get your head around reality
The rich have an army of lawyers and accountants solely focused on taxes. Those lawyers and accountants are paid very well to make sure the rich find as many loopholes as possible to shield their cash and property.
And with good reason, according to the book: “Asset protection is the foundation of all wealth building; you must understand it if you are ever to join the ranks of the financial elite.”
2. Prepare for combat
Those lawyers and accountants are there for a reason – to fight. And that, according to the book, is the attitude needed to truly take advantage of a tax code riddled with loopholes. Just remember: do it legally.
“If you plan on becoming (or staying) wealthy you must learn to legally combat your tax bill.”
Maybe worse than the IRS: While the government is certainly Enemy No. 1 in the book, lawsuits – the kind that can threaten accumulated wealth – come in a close second. Putting your assets in a position that will leave them untouched by litigation is crucial.
“Entire family futures have been put in jeopardy. The worst part is that these lawsuits often could have been avoided with a few simple preventative measures.”
4. Shield your retirement
Or the government will take it: The book goes into great detail on how to structure your savings in a way that will shelter them from future taxes, fees or expenses.
“Wealthy families in this country take estate planning seriously because they know how bad government intervention can be. You must adopt this mentality.”
5. Don’t be afraid of the IRS
While the U.S. government certainly isn’t revered in the book, it also goes to great lengths to make clear that readers shouldn’t be afraid. Instead, the convoluted tax code provides a series of advantages – the kinds that should be taken advantage of.
“The fact is, you don’t have to be scared of the IRS. Americans have every right – some would say a duty – to pay as little tax as possible.”
6. A business can be one hell of a tax shelter
The tax code is undoubtedly skewed toward easing burdens on small businesses. (Because seriously, what lawmaker is going to vote against a loophole that benefits small business?)
“The best advice I can give to anyone looking to keep a larger percentage of their hard-earned money is to do what it takes to own your own business.”
7. Real estate is king
In a passage that lines up rather nicely with Donald Trump’s primary line of business, the book makes clear that real estate – either through rental-income or through appreciation – is a great way to use the tax code to actually build wealth.
“There are very few business opportunities that allow you to build wealth without paying taxes and then subsequently pay reduced rates when the time comes to settle up with Uncle Sam. Real estate, however, is a prime exception.”
8. Seriously, get into real estate
The book, citing Trump himself, makes clear that the tax code favors those in the real estate business. Between strategies like like-kind exchanges and cost segregation, real estate provides ample opportunity to take advantage of the tax code.
“Rich people know how to take advantage of their tax situation. This is part of the reason why they’re rich.”
9. Embrace depreciation
Depreciation – the “mother of all tax deductions” could “potentially allow a business owner to deduct up to $108,000 of asset purchases while actually spending little to no money now.”
10. It’s all on you
Well, technically it’s not (see: lawyers, accountants.) But the key theme of the book is that the tax code is so riddled with loopholes that anyone who doesn’t take advantage is simply leaving money on the table.
As it concludes: “When all is said and done, you have a decision to make. You are the one responsible for what you do with what you’ve been presented. You can go on doing things the same old way, which would produce the same old results. Or you can do things the way millionaires do things.”