President Trump's tax filings show that since 2015, business has been booming at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, thanks to an influx in new members and an initiation fee increase that went into effect when Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, The New York Times reports, citing Trump tax records covering more than two decades.
The Times found that when Trump announced he was running for president in 2015, Mar-a-Lago became inundated with new members. In 2014, the club earned $664,000 in initiation fees, and that number went up to just under $6 million in 2016; in January 2017, Trump doubled the cost of initiation.
The Internal Revenue Service says that for a business expense to be deducted, it must be "ordinary and necessary." Business expenses at Mar-a-Lago for 2017 included $109,433 for linens and silver, $197,829 for landscaping, and $210,000 for event photography. The tax returns also show Trump has written off expenses related to travel from his different homes and properties, including meals and aircraft fuel, as well as grooming costs — he wrote off the more than $70,000 he spent on his hair while working on his reality show The Apprentice, the Times reports.
The IRS says legal fees can be deducted when they are "directly related to operating your business," but this does not include "legal fees paid to defend charges that arise from participation in a political campaign." Nevertheless, Trump's tax records show the Trump Corporation wrote off business expenses paid to Alan Futerfas, a criminal defense lawyer who was hired to represent Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., during the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the Times reports.
This was in relation to investigators looking into Trump Jr.'s role in setting up a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Russians promised to provide damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and when Trump Jr. testified before Congress in 2017, Futerfas was with him. Futerfas, who additionally represented Trump's now-shuttered charitable foundation, received at least $1.9 million in 2017 and 2018 from the Trump Corporation, the Times reports, and the business also wrote off the $259,684 it paid Williams & Jensen, a second law firm hired to represent Trump Jr. Read more at The New York Times.