The New York Times is dismembering Donald Trump's claim to be a "self made man" who built an empire with his own hard work and his own money.
It turns out that a lot of the money that grew into Trump's real estate empire was money that Trump and his father owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
...The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.The United States has strict limitations for income taxes, generally three years from the date of filing. The statutory limitations, however, don't apply in the case of tax fraud:
It is ...important to note that no deadline applies where the IRS can establish that a taxpayer has: 1) filed a false or fraudulent return; 2) willfully attempted to evade tax; or 3) failed to file a return. Unlike the circumstances above where tax returns are filed (even with errors), these are cases in which a taxpayer is willfully or intentionally not filing taxes or is filing fraudulent return(s). Not only will there be no time limit on IRS action against such taxpayers, but heightened interest fees and penalties will apply.
Worse yet, tax fraud and evasion are criminal violations and offenders face the prospect of fines and jail time if the government seeks to prosecute them for the offenses. Nevertheless, every year thousands of individuals fail to pay their taxes, but the IRS usually prefers to resolve tax problems outside of the judicial system in most cases. Coming forward voluntarily and cooperating with the IRS to determine any taxes that are due and establishing a payment plan is sometimes a good way of both avoiding criminal liability and getting back in the relative good graces of the IRS.The Times article is certainly timely. Yesterday the new Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Charles Rettig, was sworn into office.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on June 28, 2018, Rettig "told lawmakers he would ensure that the agency is 'impartial and non-biased from top to bottom' and follows the law."Rettig shows up on Day One to be greeted with a detailed account of a half-billion dollar tax cheat, the guy who nominated him to head the IRS. Hey Chuck, remember your "impartial and non-biased from top to bottom" pledge? Well you've got a case all made out for you thanks to a newspaper's forensic audit and it should be like pushing on an open door. Go git 'er, Chuck.