NY Times report alleges Trump made much of fortune through ‘dubious’ tax dodges on inheritance

NY Times report alleges Trump made much of fortune through ‘dubious’ tax dodges on inheritance
Donald Trump waves to staff members of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort as they cheer him on before the start of the grand opening ceremonies in Atlantic City, N.J., Thursday night on April 5, 1990. Trump attended the gala with his mother, Mary, father, Fred, and sister, the U.S. District Court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, right. On the left is Donald Trump's brother Robert Trump and his wife Blaine Trump. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) (CHARLES REX ARBOGAST)

(RNN) – President Donald Trump built much of his wealth through money passed on to him through his father using suspect tax avoidance schemes, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Citing more than 100,000 pages of financial and business documents and supplemental investigation, The Times reported Trump’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, passed $1 billion to their children and avoided more than 90 percent of the taxes they would have owed.

The report said Trump himself received the equivalent of $413 million in today’s dollars. The president famously traces the origin of his own business empire to just a single $1 million loan.

“Allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory," Trump attorney Charles Harder said in response the report.

During a 2016 presidential debate, Trump said it made him “smart” to avoid paying income taxes. The president has never released his personal tax returns, as past presidents and presidential candidates have done.

The alleged family tax avoidance strategies included a “sham corporation” designed 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.

As one critical example, The Times reported that in 1997, the president and his siblings took control of Fred Trump’s estate after he had slid into dementia and was nearing death.

The Trump siblings allegedly undervalued their father’s real estate, reporting the properties were worth a combined $41.4 million in tax returns. According to the report, the collection of properties were sold for more than 16 times that amount in the following years.

“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.

New York’s state tax authority is “reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation,” according to The Washington Post.

The Times report noted that most, if not all, of the alleged financial crimes would have already passed the statute of limitations. There are none, however, preventing civil fines for tax violations.

The president’s brother, Robert Trump, issued a statement to the paper that said “all appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid” after the deaths of Fred and Mary Trump in 1999 and 2000.

Following the report, Congressional Democrats reiterated their longstanding calls for Trump to release his tax returns, while conservative media labeled it hyped-up slander.

Trump ally Sean Hannity implied on his radio show that the report was a distraction because “they’re losing the vote on Judge Kavanaugh” and said treating it credibly would “reward the party of slander and bludgeoning.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA, meanwhile wrote on Twitter, “The revelations in the New York Times only heighten the need for the public to see his tax returns and understand his family’s financial dealings.”

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