Ship Bottom Accountant Ray Ciccone Tapped for Knowledge on Trump Finances

Oct 05, 2016
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Ship Bottom accountant Ray Ciccone of Ciccone, Gotthold and Koseff has been interviewed on television news recently because of his former business associations with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Ciccone worked with Trump from 1983 to 1995, handling his casino accounting as part of the Arthur Andersen firm.

Ciccone did not prepare the 1995 state income tax forms for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that appeared in the New York Times on Saturday. The article revealed Trump tax information that the candidate has declined to release, sparking a news and political feeding frenzy when it was reported Trump declared a $916 million loss that year that could have enabled him to avoid paying personal income taxes for a number of years.

On Sunday’s NBC Nightly News with Halle Jackson, Ciccone explained that in the world of business finance, the income tax declaration is “not a big deal.”

“It’s not really a big deal. I think it’s a big deal that no one has seen his tax returns; then all of a sudden you are getting a snippet of his operating loss, which if you are familiar with these kinds of things, that is not a big deal,” Ciccone told NBC.

On Monday morning he traveled to Philadelphia to appear on MSNBC news with correspondent Katy Tur and explained how the tax code allows businesses to depreciate their holdings over a number of years.

“First of all, a tax loss is different from a cash loss,” said Ciccone. “Tax laws allow you to deduct certain things – it may not be an outlay of cash. (For instance) if you build a $500 million building, you can depreciate for that building, and that loss gets carried through to your personal return.

“Every entity he (Trump) owns is either an S corporation or an LLC and you don’t pay tax on that level. You pay tax only one time on your income tax.

“In that time period (1995) he was at the height of building his buildings; he was making big capital investments, whether funds were borrowed or whatever. Let’s say at the end of the first year you have a loss – it goes to his personal income. The difference is carried back three years for a refund or it is carried forward 15 years. If you have generated a loss in an earlier year, the tax law allows it to go to your personal return and maybe the next year you have another loss that gets carried forward, too, and it keeps going. We don’t know yet if the $915 million was carried forward for many, many, years and how much (of that loss) got used up.”

On Tuesday, Ciccone elaborated on his association with Trump to The SandPaper.

“I served as his accountant in a variety of capacities,” he said. “But I never did his tax returns. … His income taxes were done by a really small firm located in Brooklyn, the same firm that his father used. The New York Times tracked down the guy; he’s retired in Florida (Jack Mitnick).”

What does using his father’s accountant say about Trump?

“He is very loyal and very personal,” said Ciccone.

“How did I get his business? That’s an interesting story. The first 10 years of my career I worked at the Arthur Andersen firm that did all the casino work. They dominated the casino industry; they did Harrah’s, Caesars, Hilton and MGM. When Donald got into the casino business, he was very young and he did a joint venture with Harrah’s that was owned by Holiday Inn, a client of ours. We inherited Ivana Trump (as a client). Trump had bought the Trump Marina that became the Golden Nugget and she wanted to run it. I’m a casino expert in accounting and worked with her, and then he asked for me and that started our close association.

“I did audits of his casinos and those are “flow-through” entities, which means they show up on income tax returns.”

How did NBC news connect with Ciccone? “I was contacted Sunday morning after the New York Times article was published. I think the news must have producers digging into files when a story breaks and they found an article on me, as I had a long association with him (Trump). I went to his wedding; we had a very close business association at one time.”

Trump surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani have termed Trump a “genius” in regards to the revelations about his tax situation. To the question “Is Trump a financial genius or are you the financial genius?” Ciccone said that was an unfair question. He also would not reveal if he is voting for Trump for president.

“I’m not doing any business with him at present, but we keep in touch,” said Ciccone. “I haven’t heard from him since I appeared on television.”

— Pat Johnson





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