Trump could face a fight over the planned move from New York to Florida
NY: Donald Trump a Florida man? Not so fast.
Despite a stinging "good riddance" tweet from New York's governor, the president's home state may not let him go to Florida without a fight.
Trump's plan to move his permanent residence to Palm Beach is likely to be largely analyzed by New York state officials, who are known for auditing wealthy residents looking to flee to lower-tax states to make sure such movements are real and not only on paper. Those cases can last for years.
"New York says just because you fill out a piece of paper, that doesn't make you a Floridian," said Mark Klein, a tax lawyer who has handled hundreds of tax-residency audits. "People have this misunderstanding that if you go to Florida and fill out an affidavit, you register to vote and you get a driver's license, that is all it takes."
Even though it appears Trump has a strong case —he's only spent a few nights at his Trump Tower penthouse overlooking Fifth Avenue since he became president _ tax experts say it's not a matter of if he will be audited but when.
"It's 100 percent he'll get audited," predicted Barry Horowitz, a tax accountant who has handled many change-of-residency cases. "There'll be a fight."
The general rule to avoid New York taxes is to spend less than 184 days of the year in the state, but that is only the beginning. Auditors and judges could see where their headquarters are located (also in Trump Tower), the size of their various houses, where they show their family's photos and their most valuable works of art, even where they clean their teeth.
In announcing his move in a tweet late Thursday, Trump said "will always have a special place in my heart!" But despite paying "millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year," he complained, he had been "treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state."
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, tweeted quickly: Have a good trip. It's not like (in) realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway ...
And then New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio chimed in, tweeting, Don't let the door hit you on the way out and Deepest condolences to the good people of Florida.
Trump responded later Friday with a four-part tweet that blasted both Cuomo ("the brother of Fredo") and de Blasio, saying, "I love New York, but New York can never be great again under the current leadership."
In New York, Trump is paying a top marginal tax rate to the city and state that adds up to 12.7 percent. And because of Trump's own tax overhaul two years ago, he can no longer deduct most of those state and local taxes on his federal return.
In Florida, Trump would pay zero income taxes and zero estate taxes.
Trump is following a well-trod path of many other septuagenarian New Yorkers who have been drawn to Florida 's year-round warmth, sunshine and low taxes. Last year alone, 63,000 New Yorkers became Florida residents.
"I think the governor of New York should take a look at his economic policies and what is happening there," said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president. "The president is doing what many taxpayers have done and property owners have done, and that is to go to a state that is more hospitable to hard-working Americans."
For Trump, his planned move to Florida could mark the end of an era. The glittering Manhattan skyline has always been part of Trump's brand, interwoven with his brash, boastful, in-your-face style. Trump Tower, his gleaming high-rise home for decades, became a character in his 2016 presidential campaign, the site of his famous escalator ride to launch his bid and dozens of headline-grabbing events and news conferences.
But shortly after Trump took office, few people around him thought it would remain his home, mainly due to the hostile reception he received there. Annoyed with his Democratic leaders and protests, Trump has protested privately against the city, according to three Republicans close to the White House who are not allowed to speak publicly about private talks.
The New York City elite never fully accepted the impetuous, tabloid and Queens-born businessman. And it got worse after he embraced right-wing politics, particularly in immigration matters. The profoundly diverse and democratic city turned to him, and only received 10 percent of the votes in Manhattan.
When the president-elect executed his presidential transition outside the Tower, the aides actively explored scenarios in which Trump would return to New York most weekends. But as protesters clogged the streets of the city center, Trump, who hates confronting protesters, began moving away from the idea.
Since taking office, New York's attorney general has announced investigations into, and the state Legislature has moved to obtain his tax returns, efforts that likely will not be affected by his planned move to Florida.
"If people could escape New York charges simply by moving to Florida , there would be a lot of criminals walking around Miami Beach right now," said Duncan Levin, a New York City lawyer specializing in money laundering and fraud cases.
Trump returns to New York City on Saturday to cheer on a mixed martial arts fight. As if on cue, protests are already scheduled to pass in front of Trump Tower.