The Palm Beach Post reports that Donald Trump used a charitable contribution to clinch a deal that allowed him to turn his historic Mar-a-Lago property into a lucrative private club, and then deducted $5.7 million from his taxes for the "gift".
As explained by Christine Stapleton and Lawrence Mower (who joins the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau next week), the so-called gift that qualified as charity was that Trump vowed to preserve the interior of Mar-a-Lago. But preserving it was part of his deal with the Palm Beach Town Council that allowed him to transform the club in a private club.
Trump got his deduction by claiming the "preservation easement" exemption, which was little known back in 1993. But this deal helped popularize it. Since then, according to Stapleton and Mower, Trump has applied the tax break to his golf courses and estates, saving him more than $100 million in taxes.
And it all started at Mar-a-Lago.