Personal Finance

Trump says he’ll donate some profits to the Treasury – and so can you

Here's a tip you can borrow from president-elect Donald Trump's playbook: Give your money to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the national debt.

At a press conference Wednesday in New York, one of Trump's lawyers, Sheri Dillon, a tax attorney at Morgan Lewis, said that the president-elect would give the profits his hotels generate from foreign governments to the Treasury.

That is part of a plan to avoid conflicts of interest under the new administration. Reports of foreign diplomats staying at Trump's hotels have raised concerns that these individuals could curry favor with the incoming president.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

Dillon said that the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution — which bars individuals holding office in the U.S. from accepting payments from foreign states — did not apply to the hotel visits.

It remains to be seen just how much money could be transferred to the Treasury if Trump donated his hotels' profits from foreign entities.

However, if you wanted to give some of your own spare cash to Uncle Sam, you absolutely could.

Trim the national debt

Yes, people voluntarily hand their money over to the federal government.

Treasury will take your check on the condition that it's used to reduce the public debt. They will also take intangible personal property, but only on the condition that that property is sold and the proceeds go toward cutting the deficit.

You can make your gift while you're alive or leave the government a bequest as part of your estate plan.

During the last fiscal year, people gifted $2.7 million to the Treasury, in addition to taxes, to lower our rapidly growing debt. For the current fiscal year, Uncle Sam has scraped together $154,242 in contributions.

As you would imagine, the money barely makes a dent in the national debt, which stands at $19.95 trillion — and growing.

"I can see if you didn't have kids, rather than giving your money to charity, let's pay down the debt," said Charles Douglas, director of wealth planning at Cedar Rowe Partners in Atlanta.

"But if you look at the debt clock by the second, it wouldn't cover a day's worth of interest," he said.