The forms have limits: They don’t say if Trump’s companies are making a profit, and they don’t give details about some of his biggest income streams: the rental incomes from his office buildings. They also don’t show how much of Trump’s income comes from the federal government itself, as federal officials accompany Trump on his frequent visits to his own properties.
Still, these forms are the best annual snapshot of Trump’s finances, because Trump — unlike other recent presidents — has declined to release his tax returns.
Overall, they showed a mixed picture.
Revenue increased modestly at several places Trump visits.
At his hotel in downtown Washington, revenue was up 1 percent over 2017 — a stunning increase, given that 2017 was the year of Trump’s inauguration, which brought a flood of big-spending guests to the hotel. But in 2018, the hotel — which draws Trump’s GOP allies, foreign leaders and interest groups — still managed to outperform an inauguration year.
In addition, revenue increased at both Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, where Trump spends summer weekends, and at his golf club in Northern Virginia, where Trump has played rounds with members of Congress and foreign leaders.
Despite the increase at Trump’s Washington hotel, revenue from Trump’s stand-alone hotels — his hotels without golf courses attached — was still down by 20 percent from 2017.
That was partly because his hotel chain has shrunk, in places Trump never visited. The owners of Trump-branded hotels in Panama, Toronto and Lower Manhattan cut their ties with the brand, and stopped paying Trump to manage them. In 2017, that actually increased Trump’s revenue, as the company got one-time payments from the owners cutting ties. In 2018, they were simply gone.
At Trump’s Chicago hotel, revenue was down 5 percent, continuing a long slide that began in 2016. Trump’s company has blamed the decline on tourists’ fears of gun violence in Chicago, though other Chicago luxury hotels have thrived in the same time.
In a statement earlier this week, Eric Trump — the president’s son, who is running the Trump Organization day-to-day — said his company had a great year.
“Our company had an exceptional 2018,” Trump said in the statement. “Our iconic hotels, golf courses, commercial buildings, residential projects and other assets are the best in the world and unrivaled by anyone.”
The company noted that its overall golf revenue increased from 2017 to 2018. The increase was about 1.4 percent, largely driven by a $3 million increase in revenue at Turnberry, Trump’s historic club in Scotland. Turnberry has lost money in past years; the Trump disclosures don’t say if it actually turned a profit in 2018.
At Mar-a-Lago, the club that Trump uses as his “winter White House,” most of the charities that once booked grand fundraisers in the ballrooms quit after 2017. Their departures were in response to Trump’s statement that there “very fine people” among the crowds during violent protests in favor of keeping Confederate statues in Charlottesville.
Before, Mar-a-Lago had been one of the standouts of Trump’s business empire. Its revenue more than doubled after Trump got into politics. Even after the decline in 2018, it is still millions above what it was in 2014.
Trump’s disclosure documents also included some references to Trump businesses that have faded. The remains of Trump University produced no money at all. His line of name-branded menswear, which once brought in more than $1 million, dropped to less than $50,000. And Trump’s one-time modeling agency produced a paltry $547 in residual income.
The documents also showed that a new effort to sell Trump-branded products over the Internet — reaching Trump voters who might never visit a Trump property — has paid off. The income from that Trump Store online outlet increased from $107,000 to $520,000 in a year.
The documents also show that the Trump Organization sold off some of its noncore properties last year, including warehouses in South Carolina, housing developments in outer boroughs of New York City, and land in the Dominican Republic. Those sales brought in more than $20 million.