Trump $70K tax deduction for ‘Apprentice’ hairstyling is likely illegal

President Trump charged off 70K of hair expenses on his taxes but experts say that's not allowed

President Donald Trump has been accused of a lot of things and recently after the New York Times finally acquired the information they’d long sought on his tax returns, an interesting tidbit about a specific expense was revealed.

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It seems that Trump charged off 70K in hairstyling expenses on his tax return to account for “hairstyling” from his longtime stylist, Sharon Sinclair. According to the Times, he paid Sinclair, also a makeup artist, $13K in 2004, $36K for 2005, and she was paid approximately $20K for her services in 2006. Overall, Sinclair was paid more than 70K for her work with Trump.

The problem is two-fold, say tax experts. Not only was Trump likely reimbursed for his hairstyling during his apprentice years from 2004 when he hosted the first season until 2015 when he hosted his last, hairstyling is not a legitimate expense that can be deducted. During his Apprentice years, according to The Washington Post, Trump says he made $214M.

“I can’t think of any circumstances in which Trump would have paid those costs out of his own pocket and not be reimbursed,” an unnamed NBC executive who worked on The Apprentice told the Times.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Although the deduction has been challenged in the past by individuals who say their appearance matters on their jobs, like television anchors and other performers, it is mostly not deductible, according to tax experts, as hairstyling is considered a personal expense. According to several tax sites and Backstage, the industry Bible for actors and other performers, there is an extremely high bar for hairstyling to be a deductible expense.

“There’s no way he could have legitimately deducted hair expenses, whether reimbursed or not,” Schuyler M. Moore, a Los Angeles tax lawyer who’s an expert on tax issues in the entertainment industry, told the Times. “There are many cases and audits dealing with this issue.”

Hairstyling for Ivanka Trump, who appeared on several episodes of The Apprentice, was also deducted. Records from the Trump organization and other entities owned by Trump show that payments totaling $95K made to Ivanka’s hairstylist between 2007 and 2013 were written off.

Republicans Hold Virtual 2020 National Convention
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 27: Ivanka Trump, daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser, addresses attendees as Trump prepares to deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to deliver the speech in front of 1500 invited guests. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Hair and makeup costs, according to the NBC executive and industry standard is generally covered by the show the TV personality appears on.

But Amy Lasch, a former Apprentice hairstylist said that when she worked on the show in the first two seasons, Trump came to the set already “camera ready.”

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“It’s as if he got ready somewhere else first,” Lasch told the New York Post in 2016. “If I noticed a flyaway that the camera was sure to pick up, I would hold a large mirror up to Donald and ask, ‘Do you want me to fix it?’

“I knew damn well — ask before I raised a finger to that hair.”

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