For the first time in 25 years, Trump drops off Forbes' list of America's richest people.

Donald Trump is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, falling $400 million short of making the Forbes 400 list of America's wealthiest people this year. The real estate billionaire is worth the same amount as he was a year ago, when he was ranked No. 339 on the list, but he has lost $600 million since the outbreak began.

During the Covid period, technology stocks, cryptocurrency, and other assets have performed well. However, Trump's big-city properties, which account for the majority of his wealth, have underperformed, kicking him out of the country's most elite club.

If Trump wants to point the finger at someone, he should start with himself. He had a fantastic opportunity to diversify his fortune five years ago. Federal ethics inspectors were pressuring Trump to sell his real estate investments shortly after the 2016 election. That would have allowed him to put the money into broad-based index funds and run for government without any conflicts of interest.
Others in the executive branch have little choice but to follow the advice of ethics officials. People who have assets that could be in conflict with their day jobs in government risk breaking the criminal conflicts-of-interest law. The president, on the other hand, is free from the law, as Trump triumphantly stated during a news conference just nine days before entering the White House. 

He told a swarm of reporters gathered in Trump Tower, "I could genuinely manage my business and run government at the same time." "I don't like the way that looks, but if I wanted to, I could do it." I would be the only person capable of doing so."

Trump has decided to keep his assets. After debt, they were believed to be worth $3.5 billion at the time. If he had instead decided to sell everything, he would almost certainly have had to pay large capital gains taxes. Trump undoubtedly has enormous untaxed gains locked in each of his five most valuable holdings, which he acquired many years ago.

If he had paid the maximum capital gains tax—23.8 percent to the federal government and 8.8 percent to New York State authorities on every penny he owned—his fortune would have been reduced by nearly $1.1 billion, leaving him with $2.4 billion on his first day in office.

However, what appeared to be a significant sacrifice at the time could have turned out to be a profitable realignment. Trump's fortune would have risen to $4.5 billion by now if he had invested that $2.4 billion in an index fund following the S&P 500, for example, leaving him 80 percent richer than he is now. In other terms, his stubbornness to withdraw cost him $2 billion.
And that's a conservative estimate; he could have ended up paying a lot more. A little-known part of the federal tax code allows government employees who sell their assets to acquire a certificate of divestiture, which allows them to avoid capital gains taxes.

Consider it a government bribe to get officials to do the right thing and avoid conflicts of interest. Trump may not have been able to get the perk since he was not subject to the conflict-of-interest statute.

Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics at the time Trump was assuming his new post, told Forbes that he would have been pleased to offer Trump a certificate of divestment, but it's unclear whether IRS officials would have honoured it. Trump's team didn't even inquire about it, according to Shaub. "They never expressed an interest in divestment," he said.

Close-mindedness comes at a price. Trump could potentially have re-invested $3.5 billion in the S&P 500 on the day he took office if he had managed to avoid capital gains taxes. In that hypothetical scenario, Trump would have been worth an estimated $7 billion by September, when Forbes released its annual list, good enough for him to rank 133rd among the country's wealthiest people. Instead, for the first time in a quarter-century, he has dropped out of the Forbes 400.

The 10 wealthiest people in America and the corporations that are the source of their wealth are listed below, based on Forbes' calculations.

  1. Jeff Bezos, $201 billion
  2. Elon Musk, Tesla: $190.5 billion
  3. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook: $134.5 billion
  4. Bill Gates, Microsoft: $134 billion
  5. Larry Page, Google: $123 billion
  6. Sergey Brin, Google: $118.5 billion
  7. Larry Ellison, Oracle: $117.3 billion
  8. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway: $102 billion
  9. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft: $96.5 billion
  10. Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP: $75 billion.

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