Of all the criticism levied at Donald Trump during his surprising ascent to the top of the GOP presidential race (and, there has been plenty) one ongoing narrative has been that Trump may be exaggerating his boasts of tremendous personal wealth.
In repeatedly citing his business savvy on the campaign trail, the real estate mogul and former reality television star has claimed a net worth exceeding $10 billion. But, a new report from Crain's New York claims that Trump actually qualified for a New York state property tax break that is only available to married couples who make $500,000 or less per year. That's interesting, considering that Trump's Personal Financial Disclosure (PFD) filed with the Federal Election Commission last summer pegged his 2014 income at $362 million.
Crain's reported on Tuesday that New York City Finance Department records show that Trump qualified for the state's School Tax Relief Program (aka STAR) on his most recent property tax bill for his Trump Tower penthouse on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. While Trump's purported income would appear to make him far from eligible for the tax break, the state's records reportedly show that he received a whopping $302 STAR benefit on his last property tax bill. What's more, as Crain's notes, in order to qualify for the STAR program, Trump would have had to declare the penthouse as his primary residence and send the State of New York his federal income tax return.
The contents of Trump's tax returns have been the subject of much speculation over the past several months, as the Republican presidential candidate has claimed he won't publicly release his tax returns during his ongoing audit by the IRS. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has suggested there could be a "bombshell" in Trump's tax returns.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Fortune that the tax benefit was "an error on the part of the city of New York," and that Trump received the benefit "for many years while there was no income verification requirement." The campaign told Crain's that Trump hadn't applied for the benefit since 2009. A spokesman for the city's finance department told Crain's that the city cross-checks applicants' annual income every year with New York state tax authorities.
As Fortune has noted, much of Trump's assessment of his wealth is based on property valuation and his own personal valuation of his brand and overall holdings. Fortune's Shawn Tully also wrote recently that the filing could reveal that Trump's income (and net worth) are lower than he claims.