An explosive investigation from the New York Times finds that Trump helped his parents commit tax fraud.
Trump has long insisted that he became a self-made billionaire after accepting a "small loan" of $1 million from his father, Fred Trump, and that he supposedly paid back every penny of it with interest.
Yet Trump has also infamously refused to release his tax returns, unlike every other U.S. presidential candidate in the last several decades — which has made it nearly impossible to prove exactly how much he is worth, how he made his money, and whether he paid all the taxes he owed over the years.
The Times reports that Trump "helped his parents dodge taxes" and participated in shady tax schemes in the 1990s that included "instances of outright fraud."
Thanks in part to these schemes, Trump has reaped at least $413 million in today's dollars 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.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. 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.
Trump probably can't be held criminally liable for the tax schemes at this point, the Times reports, because the statute of limitations has passed. But there is no statute of limitations on civil penalties for tax fraud.
You can read a summary of the Times' most important findings here.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.