An Analysis of President Trump’s Financial Disclosures: What we Know, Don’t Know, and Why It All Matters
By Mike Tanglis
President Donald J. Trump has refused to release his tax returns. Not doing so stands in direct contrast to every major-party presidential candidate since Richard Nixon. Twice as a candidate and once as president, Trump has released a financial disclosure form known as the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) form 278e. The two forms Trump submitted as a candidate were filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The form he filed as president was filed directly with OGE. These three financial disclosures offer a very limited snapshot into Trump’s business career, which began in the 1970s.
According to ethics experts Amb. Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, because Trump has not released his tax returns, “we do not yet know the full extent of Trump’s conflicts.”
Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns certainly raises suspicions that conflicts exist. But there is already a massive conflict problem based on what we already know from his 278e financial disclosures.
This report will show, among other things:
- President Trump’s business empire is enormous and complex. And his efforts to separate himself from his empire have been little more than cosmetic.
- By cross-referencing the names of the businesses in which Trump disclosed holding an ownership stake, Public Citizen determined that three-fourths of Trump’s businesses are legally registered in Delaware.
- Among the hundreds of businesses that Trump has disclosed in his 278e forms, the disclosures reveal that Trump created more businesses on a day shortly after announcing his candidacy for president than he had on any previous day.
- Trump appears to have reported gross revenue from his businesses, as opposed to net income, on his 278e filings This raises the prospect that Trump’s businesses may actually be suffering significant net losses in years in which he reports hundreds of millions of dollars of income.
- The 278e disclosure guidelines allow Trump to report liabilities totaling just hundreds of millions when the real number may be in the billions.This report analyzes Trump’s three financial disclosures, providing new data points, insight into what we know from the disclosures, what we don’t know, and why it all matters.