The Real Deal New York

Are the Clintons trying to duck property taxes in New York?

Bill and Hillary split ownership of Chappaqua home, created trusts to shrink taxable estate
June 17, 2014 05:55PM

Bill and Hillary Clinton, longtime advocates of an estate tax, are allegedly trying to avoid paying taxes on their New York home.

Federal financial disclosures and local property records indicate that the Clintons split the ownership of their Chappaqua, New York home into 50 percent shares and created residence trusts into which they placed those shares. These moves are common strategies for millionaires looking to shrink the size of their taxable estate, Bloomberg reported.

Residence trusts like the ones the Clintons created not only deflect any appreciation in the house’s value, but also create set terms after which the property is transferred to a beneficiary. Only after the term of the trust is outlived can the asset move completely outside the estate. Additionally, by creating multiple trusts, property owners are able to spread the risk so that the death of one party would not affect the other party’s trust.

The Clintons, both of whom have supported higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans, have accrued their own fortune over the past decade as a result of paid speeches and book royalties. By the end of 2012, the couple was worth between $5.2 million and $25.5 million.

The estimated value of the house for property tax purposes is $1.8 million. The couple purchased their Chappaqua home for $1.7 million in 1999.

Critics are investigating the Clintons’ finances as Hillary Clinton tours the country to promote her book, “Hard Choices” — and tests the waters for a possible run for the White House. The former secretary of state was criticized for comments she made in an ABC interview, during which she said that the couple was “dead broke” after they left the White House in 2001. [Bloomberg]Sasha von Oldershausen