New York Times, Trump Took $70,000 in Tax Deductions for Hair Care. Experts Say That’s Illegal.:
There were many bombshells in The New York Times’s exposé last week about President Trump’s taxes. He has paid basically zero federal income tax for years. His much-ballyhooed businesses are on the ropes. And that was just the headline.
But it was a juicy and seemingly less significant matter that jumped out at me: Mr. Trump spent more than $70,000 on hairstyling during several years of his run on “The Apprentice,” his reality-TV show.
That, of course, is quite a lot for any one person to spend on having his hair cut, blow-dried or colored. But what is really remarkable about the revelation is that Mr. Trump’s production company deducted his hairstyling expenses from its taxable income, reducing its tax bill.
Tax experts told me that deducting what is ordinarily considered a personal expense is prohibited under almost any circumstances. And they said such a deduction could potentially constitute criminal tax fraud if the cost of the hairstyling was reimbursed by someone else. ...
In 2011, the U.S. Tax Court heard a case involving a news anchor at the NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, who deducted her hair-care expenses on the grounds that her job required it and that she was a full-time ambassador for the station. The court flatly rejected the claim. Expenses related to “grooming” are “inherently personal expenditures,” the court held, even though “these expenses may be related to her job.” ...
Whether these deductions were merely aggressive or illegal would ordinarily be the subject of I.R.S. audits. Mr. Trump has said he remains under audit, and The Times reported that one focus is a $72.9 million refund that he claimed and received. It is not clear whether the I.R.S. has examined the Trump family’s hair-care deductions. ...
Compared with Mr. Trump’s billion-dollar losses, which offset any profits, $70,000 in dubious hair-care deductions might seem trivial. But they are emblematic of his overall approach to taxes: No amount is too small to withhold from the government’s coffers.
(Hat Tip: Ted Seto.)