Donald Trump’s yuge accounting firm is actually ranked No. 24 in the U.S.

Donald Trump's yuge accounting firm is actually ranked No. 24 in the U.S.
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Donald Trump’s yuge accounting firm is actually ranked No. 24 in the U.S.

Photo: Bloomberg News
Public filings show the foundations controlled by Trump and his son Eric are both audited by WeiserMazars

This Week in Crain’s NY: 3/13/16

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WeiserMazars, an accounting firm that virtually no one has heard of, is privy to something that almost everyone wants to know: Donald Trump’s net worth.

WeiserMazars’ clients include a taxi-medallion lender and a small perfume maker. It’s also Trump’s accounting firm, Crain’s has ascertained, although the Republican front-runner won’t name it, referring to it only as a “big accounting firm–one of the most respected.” It is, in fact, the nation’s 24th largest such firm. Respected? Certainly. Big? No.

The firm is not eager to trumpet its relationship with The Donald, and would not comment for this story or confirm Trump is a client. However, public filings show the foundations controlled by Trump and his son Eric are both audited by WeiserMazars. Fellow accountants say it’s routine for their firms to audit the charitable activities of their top business clients. And Donald Bender, who signed the foundations’ returns, heads WeiserMazars’ Long Island real estate practice. He did not return a call.

Without help from his accountants, calculating Trump’s wealth—a key element of Donald Trump’s appeal—is tricky, even for the staffers at the Internal Revenue Service. They’ve been auditing Trump for a dozen years, the onetime casino owner said. The IRS won’t confirm whether it is reviewing Trump’s filings, and says audit or no audit, Trump is free to make his returns public.

That’s why the discovery last week by Crain’s that Trump has regularly received a middle-class tax credit on his multimillion-dollar Fifth Avenue condo provoked widespread interest. The benefit, called the STAR program, offers about a $300 credit to hundreds of thousands of New York homeowners whose incomes are under $500,000. The city said it checks annually with the state, which processes people’s tax returns, to make sure STAR applicants fall under the income limit.

Perhaps the fact that Trump qualifies for the benefit means his annual income is less than $500,000, which certainly would cast his claims of being “really rich” into doubt. Trump’s camp insisted the candidate didn’t apply for the credit after the $500,000 threshold was put in place five years ago and that the city erred in granting it to him. The city replied that Trump shouldn’t have received the abatement and is demanding he return the approximately $900 it yielded him.

Neither the city nor the state would say whether its checks showed Trump’s personal income was under $500,000 a year, or whether in fact it had properly verified Trump’s income. It said only that Trump got the benefit starting in 2014 after his Park Avenue residence was disqualified from the STAR program and that the credit was “automatically” applied to his Fifth Avenue penthouse. How did that happen? Who “automatically” did that? No one will say. 

A version of this article appears in the March 14, 2016, print issue of Crain’s New York Business.

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