New documents show Trump may have lied about business profits to avoid taxes

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Experts say the discrepancies between Trump's property taxes and loan documents may constitute fraud.

Documents newly obtained by ProPublica this week show that Donald Trump's businesses may have fudged their books in order to both avoid paying taxes and obtain loans — a practice experts said might constitute outright fraud.

According to ProPublica's report, the documents show that Trump's businesses reported different profits, expenses, and occupancy numbers to potential lenders than they did on New York City tax filings.

The mismatched figures made the Trump-owned buildings owned appear in better financial shape on the loan documents than they did on property tax filings, which showed the buildings were less profitable.

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Nancy Wallace, a finance and real estate professor at the University of California-Berkeley, told ProPublica that the discrepancies in those filings may represent "versions of fraud."

It's unclear which set of figures were true.

Lying on tax forms is a federal offense. Both Trump's former personal attorney and longtime "fixer" Michael Cohen, as well as former Trump campaign Chair Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for falsifying tax and bank documents, among other things.

Cohen, for his part, accused Trump in sworn testimony back in February of lying about his net worth.

Congress has subpoenaed Trump's tax returns and documents from his accounting firm, since he has not released them publicly himself, as other presidents have in the past. Trump, however, has blocked congressional investigators and is refusing to turn those documents over, an act that could further worsen his situation amid the House impeachment inquiry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also worked to keep Trump's taxes private.

Despite this, those seeking the documents have made some headway: On Oct. 7, a federal judge ordered Trump to turn his tax returns over to prosecutors in Manhattan. And on Friday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., also ordered Trump's accounting firm to turn over tax documents to House investigators.

Trump is appealing the rulings. So far, he has lost every court battle to keep the documents under seal.

A bombshell report from the New York Times in 2018 that showed what appeared to be outright instances of tax fraud on Trump's part. According to the report, Trump and his siblings, in the 1990s, helped "his parents dodge taxes" by using a "sham corporation."

Trump's legal team responded to the report by claiming "IRS transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.