Behold the Donald Trump Golf Course Tax Deduction

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

I have three new notes to offer about the Republican tax plan. You have to see them to believe them.

#1: The Golf Course Deduction

The Republican plan eliminates deductions for student loan interest, alimony payments, moving expenses, major medical expenses, school supplies purchased by teachers, and tax credits for parents who adopt children. Sure this hurts some people, but it’s gotta be done. We have to pay for all the rate cuts somehow.

But there’s one deduction they kept: a “conservation easement” for owners of golf courses. I know that sounds like something from SNL or The Onion, but it’s not. It’s really something Republicans decided not to touch.

#2: SALTing the Wounds

For us ordinary schmoes, the Republican tax bill eliminates the deduction for the state and local taxes we pay. But for the rich it’s a whole different matter. Folks with pass-through businesses—hedge funds, private equity firms, etc.—not only get a super-special tax rate of only 25 percent, they also get to deduct their state and local taxes.

Now, this might just be a drafting error, but apparently Republicans are dragging their feet on adding language that would clear it up once and for all. They seemed to be hoping that no one would notice, since it’s a pretty arcane provision, but someone did. We’ll see if they eventually feel forced to address it.

#3: The Interview

Gary Cohn, the chief economic advisor to President Trump, gave an interview to John Harwood on CNBC today where he explained why he loves the Republican tax plan:

Cohn: The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.

Cohn: And we see the whole trickle-down through the economy, and that’s good for the economy.

Cohn: On the estate tax, if you look at the couple of groups who are the biggest advocates for repealing the estate tax, it really is the pass-through business and it’s the farmers.
Harwood: Are you seriously saying with a straight face that getting rid of the estate tax is about farmers and not about very wealthy families?
Cohn: What I’m saying is that it benefits farms, it benefits small businesses, it benefits a lot of different people.
Harwood: Small businesses with more than $11 million estates?
Cohn: We do not believe that death should be a taxable event.

So now we know. Cohn has told us that CEOs are really excited; the rest of will have to be satisfied with a bit of trickle-down; and they have every intention of completely eliminating both the estate tax and the capital gains tax on inherited wealth. “We do not believe that death should be a taxable event.”

The Republican tax bill has always been horrible, but when you dig into the details it gets worse and worse. It seems like every page has either a hidden giveaway, some kind of punishment aimed at Republican enemies, or a straight-up gift to the super-rich. Has there ever in American history been a major tax bill this venal?

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

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.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

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

Donate