News & Politics

Trump’s Old Post Office Hotel Project Received $40 Million Tax Break

Photograph via iStock.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might knock his potential Democratic opponents Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders by saying they “couldn’t give things away fast enough,” but the loose-talking real-estate developer might be an even bigger beneficiary of the government dime than any of the groups he maligns on the campaign trail.

Trump’s company recieved a $40 million tax break last year for its ongoing renovation of the Old Post Office into a luxury hotel, according to a report released Monday by Senator James Lankford. The sum was one of 100 items included in the Oklahoma Republican’s “Federal Fumbles,” a roundup of federal spending Lankford considers to be especially wasteful.

The Trump Organization received the $40 million under the Federal Historic Tax Credit, a program overseen by the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service with the guidance of state historic preservation offices. The program allows developers to recoup 20 percent of their costs in fixing up certified historic structures. The Trump Organization started in June 2014 on a $200 million overhaul of the Old Post Office that will turn the 1899 Romanesque Revival tower into a 272-room luxury resort that Donald Trump has boasted will be “one of the great hotels anywhere in the world in the most exciting location.”

While Lankford uses the inevitable opulence of Trump’s hotel—it will feature a high-end spa, conference facilities, and the developer’s second choice of restaurants—to push for canceling historic preservation tax credits completely, the program is tied to about $6 billion in annual private development and construction spending. Between 2001 and 2013, there were 43 projects in DC totaling $569 million that received $94.5 million from the program, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Trump Organization and Trump’s presidential campaign did not say if he would get rid of the tax credit if he is elected next year.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.