Trump Engaged In Tax Fraud In The ’90s, New York Times Reports

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Written by Ann Brown

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings,” the New York Times reported after an extensive investigation.

tax fraud
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, from a trip to Southaven, Miss. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In all, according to the Times article, the president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children while paying taxes of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records revealed.

The newspaper interviewed Fred’s former employees and advisers and examined more than 100,000 pages of documents about the family’s business empire, including mortgages and deeds, probate records, financial disclosure reports, regulatory records and civil court files.

We all knew Donald Trump had a little help from his wealthy dad when starting out in business. Trump even talked about it, saying it was a “small” loan of about $1 million and he paid it back. Trump insisted he was a self-made man.

A New York Times investigation shows that he got more than a “little” help from his dad and it was derived, says the Times, in part from a series of fraudulent tax schemes in which Trump participated with his father and family.

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This revelation could help explain why Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, despite other presidents doing so for decades.

According to the recently published Times article, Trump “received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.”

That’s far from being the self-made billionaire businessman Trump claimed to be while campaigning. But the serious questions are about how he received such a large amount of money.

What the Times discovered was that Trump’s parents avoided paying taxes by diverting money to their children. “By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s,” the NYT reported.

Trump’s father found various ways to funnel this wealth to his children. “He made Donald not just his salaried employee but also his property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He gave him loan after loan, many never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stocks, money for his first Manhattan offices and money to renovate those offices. He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from his buildings,” the NYT reported.

Upon Fred’s death in 2004, Trump received the largest payout. He and his siblings sold their father’s business. Trump’s cut was $177.3 million, or $236.2 million in today’s dollars.

A lawyer for Trump, Charles J. Harder, disputes the NYT’s findings. “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” he said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”

The president’s brother, Robert Trump, also issued a statement on behalf of the Trump family:  “Our dear father, Fred C. Trump, passed away in June 1999. Our beloved mother, Mary Anne Trump, passed away in August 2000. All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid. Our father’s estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother’s estate was closed in 2004. Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago, and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls.”

While it is  unlikely the revelations from the NYT article would leave Trump vulnerable to criminal prosecution for helping his parents evade taxes, he could still be fined and it will make many people question Trump’s “truth.”

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is questioning Trump’s finances and tax situation. A spokesman for the agency said they were “reviewing the allegations” and “vigorously pursuing all appropriate areas of investigation.”