In his crusade against the wealthy, John Oliver is no liberal champion. Riding on the wave of anti-Trump sentiment, the would-be paladin only says what he says to enrich himself while benefiting from the very policies he rallies against on his HBO series, Last Week Tonight.
He is best known as the smug British comedian on late night TV who started the failed campaign to refer to Trump by his old German family name, Drumpf. At one point, he even sold “Make America Great Again”-styled hats with the words, “Make Donald Drumpf Again.” It’s truly the height of wit.
A professional grifter and left-wing demagogue, John Oliver has been extremely critical of Trump’s policies, which he regularly calls out for benefiting the rich to the detriment of everyone else.
It should come as a shock to Oliver’s viewers that just months before his episode about the Wealth Gap in America aired, in which he lamented the existence of tax loopholes, he made use of such a tax loophole to buy a penthouse apartment.
Even more amusing is the fact that the apartment tower in which he resides was formerly a Trump building, which the real estate developer sold to the Extell Group in 2005.
According to a damning report by the New York Observer, the hypocritical comedian found a tax attorney in 2014 to set up two revocable trusts—one for him and his wife—to conceal his purchase of a Manhattan penthouse valued at $9.5 million. He then used a tax loophole created by Donald Trump himself, during his heyday as a New York real estate mogul in the 1970s.
The report states that Oliver and his wife, Kate Norley Oliver, signed up with prestigious New York law firm Prokauer Rose LLP to buy the expensive property under a shell company called Hoagie’s Place LLC to receive a huge tax break.
Neither of their names appears on the mortgage or any other property records. It’s exactly the kind of thing John Oliver campaigns against during his endless sermons about inequality on his TV show.
Even though he paid $9.5 million for the penthouse, NYC authorities consider its market value to be just $1.3 million.
Furthermore, only $515k is billable for property taxes. At a 12.8 percent rate, Oliver normally would have had to pay $66,390, and instead gets away with a fraction of that.
Here’s how Oliver used Trump’s loophole to dodge paying taxes: In 1980, Trump tried to use what’s known as a “421-a” tax exemption when he bought Bonwit Teller in Manhattan, which he intended to demolish and replace with the high-rise that would eventually become Trump Tower. When he was unable to use the exemption, Trump successfully sued the city and won a $50 million tax exemption on the property. The legal verdict set a precedent for future developments, including luxury projects like John Oliver’s penthouse, qualifying them for the same tax exemption.
Because of the tax loophole, the billable value of Oliver’s property is reduced by over $300k. He only had to pay $27,343 in taxes in 2016 on the $9.5 million penthouse that he no doubt sneers down at the rest of New York City from as he comes up with new zingers against everyone who voted for Donald Trump.