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Donald Trump has lost tens of millions on Scottish golf courses, accounts show

Records for resorts in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire conflict with FEC filings in the US and reveal he has avoided paying UK corporation tax on the two courses

Donald Trump has lost nearly 26m ($31.8m) building his golfing empire in Scotland, his company accounts show a sum that means the Republican presidential candidate has avoided paying any UK corporation tax on either of his two resorts.

The latest accounts filed to the UK authorities for Trumps two resorts, in Aberdeenshire and Turnberry in Ayrshire, also show he has sunk more than 102m ($125m) of his own money into both businesses, despite losing increasing sums on both investments. The accounts suggest he may never make a profit on either resort, although the Trump family insist Turnberry will return to profitability in the short to medium term.

There is also an apparent discrepancy between the accounts and his filings last year to the US Federal Election Commission (FEC), the regulator which controls election spending.

In his attempt to create a global portfolio of world-class golf resorts, the Republican presidential candidate had invested 62.7m in buying and refurbishing the Open championship resort at Turnberry on the coast of south-west Scotland, between acquiring it in April 2014 and the end of 2015.

Location
The locations of Donald Trumps Scottish golf courses. Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Meanwhile, his losses at his golf course and boutique hotel at Balmedie, north of Aberdeen, which he once claimed would be the worlds greatest golf course and where he plans to build 2,750 homes and holiday flats, also continue to mushroom.

Trumps personal loans to Trump International Golf Course Ltd (TIGCS), which has owned the Aberdeenshire estate where the resort is being built since 2006, increased by 2.6m last year.

That took his total investment there to 39.4m well above the 31.5m valuation he has given for the course and 19-bed hotel. That increased loan was needed to help stem cumulative operating losses totalling 9.7m by the end of 2015.

As well as avoiding corporation tax liability due to those operating losses, Trump also avoided paying any value added tax (VAT), the UK sales tax, at the Aberdeenshire course last year.

The accounts for both companies, published this week, state that their financial viability rests on Trumps loans and his continued willingness to underwrite their losses. But neither set of accounts makes any mention of his bid to become US president and the fate of his investments were he to win the White House in November. Trump has said his children would run his businesses if he is elected.

In his filings last year to the US FEC, Trump declared that Turnberry generated income of $20.4m (16.6m today) in 2014 and the Aberdeenshire course earned him $4.4m (3.6m today).

His UK company accounts showed hefty losses on both resorts in that year, of 1.1m at the Aberdeenshire course and 3.6m at Turnberry. Last years operating losses at Turnberry were 8.4m. Trump lost a further 2m in dollar-to-sterling currency exchanges, bringing total losses for Trump to 10.5m last year. In 2014, he reports losing 3.1m in currency transactions at Turnberry, bringing his total losses to 6.7m in 2014. The result was an overall loss of 26m.

The Turnberry accounts state: The group is dependent on continuing finance being made available by its ultimate owner to enable it to continue operating and to meet its liabilities as they fall due. The Aberdeenshire course accounts use almost identical wording.

When he bought Turnberry, a world-famous links course with striking sea views on the coast of Ayrshire, in 2014, Trump boasted he would spend 200m on refurbishing the resort, to make it one of the worlds most prestigious and attract Open championship tournaments. However, his new company accounts cast doubt on that spending claim.

That work appeared to have been completed in June this year, when he officially reopened the 149-room five star hotel, complete with a new opulent ballroom, a 3,500-a-night presidential suite and entrance-way fountain, and the newly extended and reorganised Ailsa golf course.

But his company accounts show that by 31 December 2015, he had spent only 62m on buying the resort, its running costs, and the upgrade and course reorganisation.

The accounts show that his New York-based trust, the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, loaned his Turnberry holding company, Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd, 42m in 2014 and 21m in 2015.

Of that, he is reported to have spent 35m buying the business, implying that in order to meet his pledged refurbishment investment of 200m he needed to spend a further 138m in the first six months of this year. The accounts show that this investment only increased the value of Turnberrys physical assets by 14.4m by the end of last year.

He flew into Turnberry in June on his own Trump-branded Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, and the accounts show the 12-seater aircraft was put on Turnberrys books in 2014 after he moved it from Florida to be permanently based in Scotland.

His accounts show the aircraft was bought for just over 1m, by transferring shares from Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd to his Delaware-registered firm DT Connect LLC, which had previously operated the Sikorsky from Palm Beach, Florida. However, the accounts also show the Scottish company valued the aircraft at just 269,000.

Trumps executives in the UK point out that both courses employ significant numbers of people there are 337 on Turnberrys staff, earning a total of 5.6m last year, and 95 in Aberdeenshire, earning 2m in 2015. Trump has also spent tens of millions of pounds on local contractors. That spending has added to the Scottish economy.

Turnover at both resorts rose last year. Despite the resorts closure for refurbishments in October last year, Turnberrys turnover increased by 2.2m to 11.4m in 2015 while the Aberdeenshire course turnover rose by a more modest amount, from 2.8m to 3m. Even so, the operating losses for TIGCS were close to 1.1m, just a bit lower than its similar losses in 2014.

In addition to using the continuing losses to avoid paying company tax at both resorts, the accounts show that he has other assets which would allow him to defer corporation tax if they became profitable in future.

The accounts for Golf Recreation Scotland Ltd state he also has a potential deferred tax asset of 7.9m but that asset is not recognised in the accounts as there is no certainty of taxable profits in the future. The Aberdeenshire course has a similar deferred tax asset said to be worth 1.4m.

At the second presidential debate in St Louis, Missouri, on Sunday night, Trump acknowledged that he used a $916m loss reported on his 1995 income tax returns to avoid paying personal federal US income taxes for years. Of course I do. Of course I do I absolutely used it, he said.

The Trump campaign has been contacted for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/12/donald-trump-scotland-golf-course-resort-losses