NY state launches probe into Trump's taxes after bombshell report

Howard TerryOct 03, 2018

According to the Times, which cited confidential tax returns and financial records, Trump received today's equivalent of $413 million from the real estate holdings of his father, Fred Trump, who died in 1999.

Mr. Trump has often portrayed himself as a self-made man, noting during his presidential campaign that he received a "small" loan of $1 million from his father when he started out his career in real estate.

The Times' report claims that Trump and his siblings hid millions of dollars in gifts in what the Times describes as a "sham corporation".

The alleged family tax avoidance strategies included a "sham corporation" created to funnel money from Fred Trump to his children, fraudulent tax deductions, and misreporting the value of family wealth and properties, according to The Times.

The White House, meanwhile said that "Many decades ago, the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions". The president declined repeated requests from the Times to comment on their findings. But the newspaper said its exhaustive investigation of a vast trove of tax returns and confidential records found this was not true.

The New York State Tax Department is reviewing allegations that Donald Trump received millions of dollars from his father Fred Trump, possibly as part of alleged tax fraud schemes. However, the dollar amount could have required at least $550 million in taxes, according to the Times analysis.

"The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation", NY state Taxation and Financing spokesman James Gazzale told Agence France-Presse. He said that although the statute of limitations has since passed, such actions would have called for an investigation into the defrauding of tenants and tax fraud.

"This is one of the longest stories that we've ever run in the news pages of the Times, one of the longest investigative stories we've run period", said Paul Fishleder, who edited the story and who leads the Times' political investigations unit (which was just formed back in May). "The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate".

"President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters", Harder added.

"In every era of Mr. Trump's life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father's wealth", the Times reported Tuesday.

The records did not include Trump's personal tax returns, which he has refused to release, breaking with decades of precedent.

"The theme I see here through all of this is valuations: They play around with valuations in extreme ways", a University of Florida professor and tax law expert, Lee-Ford Tritt, told The Times.

Tactics abound: For example, Fred Trump would buy his own mortgages from the banks lending him money and transfer ownership of the debt to his children.

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