Monday 21 October 2019

'Tax dodges and outright fraud' claim over Trump's €413m from dad's fortune

Fred and Donald Trump.
Fred and Donald Trump.

Paula Dee

President Donald Trump received at least $413m from his father over the decades - much of that through dubious tax dodges - including outright fraud, according to the 'New York Times'.

The 15,000-word report contradicts Mr Trump's portrayal of himself as a self-made billionaire who started with just a $1m loan from his father.

The 'Times' says Mr Trump and his father, Fred, avoided gift and inheritance taxes by setting up a sham corporation and undervaluing assets to tax authorities.

It says the report is based on more than 100,000 pages of financial documents, including confidential tax returns from the father and his companies.

A lawyer for Mr Trump, Charles J Harder, told the 'Times' there was no "fraud or tax evasion" and the facts cited in the report are "extremely inaccurate."

The New York state tax department said it is reviewing the allegations in the Times and "is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation".

The department typically refers findings to the state attorney general's office.

The 'Times' says the Trump family hid millions of dollars of transfers from the father to his children through a sham company owned by the children called All County Building Supply & Maintenance.

Set up in 1992 ostensibly as a purchasing agent to supply Fred Trump's buildings with boilers, cleaning supplies and other goods, the father would pad invoices with markups of 20pc or even 50pc thereby avoiding gift taxes, the newspaper reports.

The 'Times' says that before Fred Trump died in the late 1990s, he transferred ownership of most of his real estate empire to his four living children. The value of the properties in tax returns summed up to $41.4m, vastly less than the 'Times' says they were worth.

The same properties would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount. In total, the president's father and mother transferred over $1bn to their children, according to the 'Times' tally.

That should have produced a tax bill of at least $550m, based on a 55pc tax on gifts and inheritance at the time.

Instead, the children paid $52.2m, or about 5pc.

Tax experts cited in the report say Mr Trump is unlikely to face criminal prosecution in helping his parents evade taxes because the maneuvers are past the statute of limitation.

The president's brother Robert Trump said "all appropriate gift and estate tax returns" were filed, adding in a statement: "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."

The 'Times' report says documents it reviewed show the future president was earning $200,000 a year in today's dollars at the age of three.

By the time Mr Trump had graduated from college, the report says, he was getting the equivalent of $1m a year from his father.

Irish Independent

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