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Native New Yorker Trump quits Big Apple for home in Florida

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Via Financial Times

New Yorkers awoke on Friday to the sensation that their metropolis had become just a bit less brash.

Donald Trump, the quintessential larger-than-life New Yorker, had confirmed that he had changed his official residence to Florida, a state with no income tax that may also be pivotal in the president’s re-election hopes next year.

The move, the US president suggested in a series of tweets that read like a break-up note, was motivated by some mix of taxes and personal and political animus.

“I cherish New York and always will,” Mr Trump tweeted. But, he added, “despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and the state.”

In another tweet, he declared: “I hated having to make this decision. But in the end it will be best for all concerned.”

For some, news of Mr Trump’s departure was a cause for celebration. “Good riddance,” tweeted Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Democratic governor.

“I hope he takes his kids with him,” one Manhattanite quipped.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Donald Trump will now legally make his home in Florida, the state where his Mar-a-Lago estate is located © Reuters

But Mr Trump’s change of domicile also touches a sensitive nerve for the city — civic leaders worry that high taxes are prompting an exodus of the wealthy who account for most of its tax receipts.

So far, the evidence is mostly anecdotal. Activist investor Carl Icahn last month became the latest big earner to announce he was relocating to Florida, which has warmer weather — and no state income tax.

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EJ McMahon, research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy, doubted that Mr Trump paid much in New York tax, in any case. The complexity of their business structures and the high amounts of leverage used mean property developers — even with huge net worths — are adept at minimising their tax bills.

“It means far less in his case than when you see people like Carl Icahn leave,” he said.

Still, the symbolism of Mr Trump leaving the city that nurtured him and his brand is undeniably potent. “As usual, everything with him is supercharged and political,” Mr McMahon noted.

Mr Trump was raised in Queens, the son of a developer who built affordable housing. He sought to make his own mark in Manhattan, and soon became one of its most recognisable citizens while honing his unique persona.

Mr Trump was a fixture at Yankees games alongside the team’s voluble owner, George Steinbrenner, among the models and glitterati at the Studio 54 nightclub and a mainstay of the tabloid gossip columns. New York was the site of Mr Trump’s early professional successes, including the iconic Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan in 1983, and the revival of the Wollman skating rink in Central Park.

Donald Trump waves to onlookers while leaving his residence at Trump Tower in New York, June 7, 1990. Trump tried unsuccessfully to evade the press amid recent reports of his financial troubles. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)
Donald Trump waves to bypassers as he leaves Trump Towers in Manhattan in 1990 © Mario Suriani/AP

But Mr Trump’s political career has shredded the relationship. New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted against him in 2016 and their state and city attorneys-general have been at the forefront of pursuing his tax information.

The Trump presidency has been an unusual case in which a hometown has not benefited from its local son reaching the White House. If anything, it may have been penalised.

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Mr Trump’s signature tax reform, which capped local property tax deductions, has taken a disproportionate toll on New York and other affluent, predominantly Democratic states.

Meanwhile, the president has also scorned desperate pleas from Mr Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer — two arch foes — to support a new train tunnel to connect Manhattan to New Jersey after the existing artery was heavily damaged by flooding.

Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy at New York University, argued that the love affair between Mr Trump and New York had long since ended.

“Trump spends his summer vacations in New Jersey and goes to Palm Beach as often as possible in the winter,” Mr Moss noted. “This merely confirms that Trump long ago abandoned NYC.”

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