Trump’s Finances Exposed: Fraud, Tax Evasion and Lies

Son and father: Donald and Fred Trump

The New York Times has published an exhaustive expose into the reality behind Donald Trump’s wealth. It’s a story of fraud, tax evasion and lies that runs counter to the myth about himself that Trump has created — myth that the media, including the Times, by its own admission, has fostered over the decades.

Here are 11 key points from the Times’ findings:

  • The Trumps’ tax maneuvers show a pattern of deception, tax experts say
    “[Tax] experts briefed on The Times’s findings said the Trumps appeared to have done more than exploit legal loopholes. They said the conduct described here represented a pattern of deception and obfuscation that repeatedly prevented the I.R.S. from taxing large transfers of wealth to Fred Trump’s children.”
  • Donald Trump began reaping wealth from his father’s real estate empire as a toddler
    “[In] every era of Mr. Trump’s life, his finances were deeply entwined with, and dependent on, his father’s wealth. By age 3, he was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. In his 40s and 50s, he was receiving more than $5 million a year.”
  • That ‘small loan’ of $1 million was actually at least $60.7 million — much of it never repaid
    “The Times found, Fred Trump lent his son at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today’s dollars. Much of it was never repaid, records show.”
  • Fred Trump wove a safety net that rescued his son from one bad bet after another
    “[At] Trump’s Castle casino, [when] an $18.4 million bond payment was due in December 1990 … Fred Trump dispatched a trusted bookkeeper to Atlantic City with checks to buy $3.5 million in casino chips without placing a bet. With this ruse — an illegal loan under New Jersey gaming laws, resulting in a $65,000 civil penalty — Donald Trump narrowly avoided defaulting on his bonds.”
  • The Trumps turned an $11 million loan debt into a legally questionable tax write-off
    “Fred Trump spent $15.5 million to buy a 7.5 percent stake in Trump Palace, his son’s condo tower rising on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Four years later, tax returns and financial statements show, Fred Trump sold that stake for just $10,000. The buyer, other documents indicate, was his son.”
  • Father and son set out to create the myth of a self-made billionaire
    “Emblematic of this dynamic is Trump Tower, the talisman of privilege that established Donald Trump as a player in New York. Fred Trump’s money helped build it. His son recognized and exploited its iconic power as the primary stage for both “The Apprentice” and his presidential campaign.”
  • Donald Trump tried to change his ailing father’s will, setting off a family reckoning
    “[With] Donald Trump playing a central role, the family formulated a plan that included unorthodox tax strategies that experts told The Times were legally dubious and, in some cases, appeared to be fraudulent.”
  • The Trumps created a company that siphoned cash from the empire
    “The first major component was creating a company called All County Building Supply & Maintenance. On paper, All County was Fred Trump’s purchasing agent, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. But All County was, in fact, a company only on paper, records and interviews show — a vehicle to siphon cash from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees.”
  • The Trump parents dodged hundreds of millions in gift taxes by grossly undervaluing the assets they would pass on
    “With the cash flowing out of Fred Trump’s empire, the Trumps began transferring ownership of the lion’s share of the empire itself to Donald Trump and his siblings. The vehicle they created to do that was a special kind of trust called a grantor-retained annuity trust, or GRAT. The purpose of a GRAT is to pass wealth across generations without paying the 55 percent estate tax.”
  • After Fred Trump’s death, his empire’s most valuable asset was an I.O.U. from Donald Trump
    “When Fred Trump died in June 1999 at the age of 93, the vast bulk of his empire was nowhere to be found in his estate — testament to the success of the tax strategies devised by the Trumps in the early 1990s. The single largest item included in his estate tax return was a $10.3 million I.O.U. from Donald Trump, money his son appears to have borrowed the year before he died.”
  • Donald Trump got a windfall when the empire was sold. But he may have left money on the table.
    “In 2003, once again in financial trouble, Donald Trump began engineering the sale of the empire Fred Trump had hoped would never leave the family. The sale, completed in 2004, brought him his biggest payday ever from his father: His cut was $177.3 million, or $236.2 million in today’s dollars. But as it turned out, banks at the time valued the empire at hundreds of millions more than the sale price. Donald Trump, master dealmaker, had sold low.”

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