President Donald Trump helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them, according to a year-and-a-half investigation from The New York Times.
The President and his siblings helped his parents build their wealth by hiding millions of dollars in gifts in a “sham corporation,” according to the Times. The President assisted his father in taking “improper tax deductions worth millions more.” He also helped to “formulate a strategy” for his parents to undervalue their real estate holdings on their tax returns to reduce their tax bill, according to records reviewed by the Times.
Trump received a total of at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, starting at the age of 3.
Over a months-long investigation, the Times reviewed more than 100,000 pages of financial documents — bank statements, financial audits, cash disbursement reports and canceled checks. They included more than 200 tax returns from Fred C. Trump, the President’s father, and other family partnerships and trusts. The Times also interviewed some of the President’s father’s former employees and advisers.
According to the investigation, tax experts say Trump is not vulnerable to criminal prosecution if found guilty because the transactions happened in the 1990s, which is past the statue of limitations. However, there is not time limit on civil fines for proven tax fraud.
Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder responded to the Times story in a statement on Monday.
“The New York Times’ allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Harder said, according to the paper.
“There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate,” the statement continued.
Trump’s brother Robert Trump said in a statement to the Times that all “required taxes were paid.”
“Our dear father, Fred C. Trump, passed away in June 1999. Our beloved mother, Mary Anne Trump, passed away in August 2000,” Robert Trump said in the statement to The Times. “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.”
“Fred Trump has been gone for nearly twenty years and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement Tuesday. “Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions.”
The records reviewed by the Times did not include Trump’s personal tax returns or his recent business dealings.
Richard Nixon first released his tax returns when he was under investigation for tax evasion. Then, presidents began consistently releasing returns starting with Jimmy Carter.
Trump has repeatedly said he’s under audit by the IRS, which has been ongoing since at least 2016, according to the President. Being under audit by the IRS does not preclude someone from releasing their tax returns publicly.
James Gazzale, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, said in a statement that the agency “is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.”
The Times report also offers a far different portrayal of how the President has gained his wealth, after decades of depicting himself as a self-made man.
He began earning money from his father when he was a toddler, and after college graduation his father gave him the equivalent of $1 million a year. By the time he was in his 40s and 50s, the yearly sum was more than $5 million, the Times reported.
Trump’s father was “relentless and creative” in finding ways to funnel wealth to his children, according to the Times. Trump was on his father’s payroll for multiple positions. Loan after loan was provided and often was never repaid. Trump got money for his car, money to buy stocks and his first Manhattan office. He was even given $10,000 Christmas checks, according to the Times.