Trump tax avoidance: Most important points from New York Times report claiming president dodged hundreds of millions in inheritance tax

What is being claimed, how has president responded - and what it could mean for his future?

Tom Barnes
Wednesday 03 October 2018 14:40 BST
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Donald Trump has been accused receiving millions from his late father, Fred (right) using a tax avoidance scheme
Donald Trump has been accused receiving millions from his late father, Fred (right) using a tax avoidance scheme (Rex)

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Donald Trump is facing a fresh series of allegations that he was involved in a scheme to fraudulently avoid tax over the course of several decades.

A New York Times investigation has uncovered details of what it believes is potential criminal behaviour involving money passed to Mr Trump from his late father's business.

The White House has already dismissed the report as “misleading”, although tax authorities in New York City have been ordered to launch an investigation into the allegations.

A number of claims relating to Mr Trump’s wealth and its sources are contained within the newspaper’s 13,000-word report, stemming from the examination of a “vast trove” of documents.

What is being claimed?

The Times has accused Mr Trump and his siblings of participating in a tax-dodging scheme, through which they received millions of dollars from their parents while avoiding gift and inheritance duties.

The report claims the president helped set up a fake corporation to disguise huge amounts of money passed to him by his wealthy real estate developer father, Fred Trump.

Studies of 100,000 pages of tax returns and financial documents have also prompted allegations Mr Trump assisted his father in avoiding even more tax by vastly undervaluing his property holdings.

Tax authorities at the time appear to have missed the scheme, which The Times claims Fred Trump used to transfer a total of $1bn (£770m) to his children, avoiding up to $550m (£423m) in tax.

What about the ‘small loan’?

One of Mr Trump’s proudest boasts during the 2016 presidential election campaign was that he is a self-made man who built a multi-billion dollar empire out of a “small” $1m loan from his father.

However, The Times report claims this is wildly inaccurate, estimating the president instead received upwards of $413m (£317m) in today’s money from his parents.

Findings include the staggering suggestion Mr Trump was earning the equivalent of $200,000 a year by the age of three and was a millionaire by the time he was eight.

Documents appear to show Mr Trump Snr passed increasingly large amounts of money to his son over the years, handing him $5m (£3.9m) a year by the time he reached his forties.

Could Trump face charges over the revelations?

Former chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Adam S Kaufmann, told The Times the financial activity it had uncovered “smells like a crime”.

However, Mr Kaufmann said the statute of limitations for Mr Trump to be charged over the matters has long since passed.

Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford at Mississippi rally

But, The Times claims there would be no time limit on issuing a civil fine for tax fraud if authorities chose to pursue a case and discovered wrongdoing.

On Tuesday evening, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter he had instructed the city’s department of finance to investigate the revelations contained within the report.

Has Trump responded to the claims?

The president addressed the New York Times piece in a tweet on Wednesday, describing it as full of “very old” and “boring” claims.

He also claimed he had never before seen the practice of calculating the modern day worth of historic sums of money by adjusting for inflation.

A separate statement released by the White House, said: “Fred Trump has been gone for nearly 20 years and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times,”

The New York Times’ and other media outlets’ credibility with the American people is at an all time low because they are consumed with attacking the president and his family 24/7 instead of reporting the news.”

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