Oliver Used Trump Tax Loophole

ProPublica Fan John Oliver Used Trump Loophole to Avoid Property Taxes

By Aly Nielsen

Whatever John Oliver may claim, he is an enterprising hypocrite.

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver said he wanted to “mitigate Trump’s damage” by supporting groups like ProPublica in November 2016. But behind closed doors, he used similar tactics as President Donald Trump to avoid paying taxes on a $9 million penthouse.

Oliver had a lawyer establish a complicated network of revocable trusts and a shell company (named after his golden retriever Hoagie) in 2014, according to Observer columnist Ken Silverstein. Oliver used the shell company to conceal his identity when he bought a 3,000 square foot penthouse in Manhattan for $9 million.

“[T]he buyer’s identity was shielded by the limited liability company Hoagie’s Place,” The New York Times reported in 2015.

After buying the home, Oliver “used a tax loophole created by Donald Trump himself back in the 1970s” to pay a “property tax rate of roughly 0.25 percent.”

According to Silverstein, when Trump was building Trump Tower in Manhattan, he sued the city to get a tax exemption intended to “encourage new development in locations that were vacant or underutilized.” Ultimately he won a tax exemption “worth $50 million.”

Oliver’s lawyer, who orchestrated the purchase, “is exactly the type of fancy pants attorney who helps his 1 percent clientele get the tax breaks and use the loopholes that Oliver gets such mileage deriding on TV,” Silverstein reported.

Just weeks after Oliver hid his penthouse purchase he ranted against tax policies benefiting the wealthy, saying “what sets America apart is that, in this time, we’ve actively induced policies disproportionately benefitting the wealthy. Like cutting income tax and capital gains tax rates for the richest half.”

Oliver has continued to please his left-wing audience by criticizing Trump throughout the election and his presidency. All the while, his wallet has been getting fatter by using the same tax-minimizing loopholes.

ProPublica directly benefited from Oliver’s attacks on Trump. Oliver encouraged his viewers to “donate to groups like ProPublica, a nonprofit group which does great investigative journalism,” in order to keep Trump accountable in November 2016. ProPublica was “still running at multiple donations per minute,” 12 hours after the segment, ProPublica president Richard Tofel told Poynter.

ProPublica is also a beneficiary of several left-wing foundations. The Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation and the Marisla Foundation gave the journalism project millions of dollars combined. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark also announced in March he would give $1 million to ProPublica, Poynter reported.