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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — President Donald Trump is waging war in the courts over how much tax he owes on his many golf courses in the U.S.
The president was in Bedminster, New Jersey Friday night for the U.S. Women’s Open Golf tournament. Bedminster is just one of 12 golf resorts that bare his brand.
In Jupiter, Florida, the Trump National Golf Club is a 285-acre state-of-the-art property. He hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe there earlier this year, where the two hit the tees on the lush, luxurious course.
In federal election filings just last month, the Trump organization claimed the property’s value is more than $50 million.
But in a lawsuit filed Thursday against Palm Beach County, Trump’s lawyers argue it’s worth far less than the county’s $18.4 million assessment.
In 2014, they valued it at “no more than $5 million.”
“If you lower the value, you pay less taxes,” said Professor David Herzig at the Valparaiso School of Law.
Taxes — that go back into the town.
“Yeah, it’s about how much you pay the state of Florida and the city and the county of Palm Beach,” he added.
It’s a years-long pattern that is practically repeated every year. Public records show President Trump has fought the tax assessments on all 12 of his U.S. golf courses, except the one in Bedminster, where he gets a farm land tax break for having goats on the property.
The Trump organization is also suing the small town of Ossining, New York, with a population of 40,000, to lower his taxes on his Westchester course. Touting a 101-ft waterfall at the 13th hole, Trump National claims it’s the most expensive golf hole ever constructed.
In campaign filings, Trump says the course is worth more than $50 million. But in 2015, his attorneys argued the course was worth only $1.35 million.
The tax difference between those two values is about $425,000 a year.
“I just think it’s so unfair,” said Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg. “Who is gonna be paying the difference, except the people of Ossining?”
Trump’s lawyers are also fighting the people of Rancho Palos Verdes south of Los Angeles, home to another luxury golf resort.
Public tax documents obtained by CNN show in 2007, the course was worth $67 million.
Year after year, however, the president filed hundreds of appeals to drop the value of the golf course by tens of millions of dollars. All those appeals have dropped the value to $27.7 million, down $40 million in nine years.
Multiple tax experts tell CNN that Trump is not alone in what’s doing. Many wealthy people have attorneys fighting to lower their tax burden.
Professor Herzig finds that just as problematic.
“If you think the system is easily manipulated, why should the average person have to pay taxes or value property properly or pay their fair share,” he wondered.