Donald Trump has responded to a report suggesting he avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in inheritance tax, labelling the story a “very old, boring ... hit piece”.
A day after the New York Times published a 14,000-word investigation – filling eight pages of its Wednesday print edition – that claimed the president engaged in schemes that included cases of fraud in which he and his siblings helped their parents dodge millions of dollars in taxes, the president dismissed the article. He said the newspaper was still angry it that it had failed to anticipate his 2016 election victory.
“The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before,” he tweeted.
“They used the concept of ‘time value of money’ in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97 per cent of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call.”
While Mr Trump routinely refers to what many believe to the US’s most comprehensive newspaper as “failing”, he often reads it, along with the New York Post.
The investigation into his tax affairs and schemes was published after a team examined 100,000 pages of documents. Some of them were public while tens of thousands were confidential, the newspaper said.
Its main assertion was that the president had received the equivalent today of at least $413m from his father’s real-estate business. It said that after poring through the “vast trove” of records, it believed that Mr Trump helped his parents evade taxes by setting up a fake corporation with his siblings to disguise millions of dollars in gifts.
Reuters pointed out that during the 2016 presidential campaign Mr Trump promoted himself as a self-made real-estate mogul who started out with only a “very small” loan from his businessman father, Fred Trump. He sparked controversy when he refused to release his tax return, something that all previous presidential candidates have done.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called the story misleading and said in a statement “many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions”.
Mr Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder told the New York Times: “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.
“The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”
He added: “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate. All estate matters were handled by licensed attorneys, licensed CPAs and licensed real estate appraisers who followed all laws and rules strictly.”
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter on Tuesday: “I’ve directed NYC’s Department of Finance to immediately investigate tax and housing violations and to work with NY State to find out if appropriate taxes were paid.”
James Gazzale, a spokesman for the New York state department of taxation and finance, said earlier the department “is reviewing the allegations in the New York Times article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation”, according to Reuters.
The US Internal Revenue Service did not reply immediately to a request for comment.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies