New York will seek to recoup ‘any money owed by Trump’

Bill de Blasio responds to NYT report accusing president of helping parents evade tax

US president Donald Trump gives the  thumbs-up upon his arrival at Memphis International Airport in Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US president Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up upon his arrival at Memphis International Airport in Memphis, Tennessee, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump received at least $413 million from his father over the decades – much of that through dubious tax manoeuvres – including outright fraud, the New York Times has reported.

The 15,000-word report contradicts Mr Trump’s portrayal of himself as a self-made billionaire who started with just a $1 million loan from his father.

The newspaper says Mr Trump and his father, Fred, avoided gift and inheritance taxes by setting up a sham corporation and undervaluing assets to tax authorities.

It says the report is based on more than 100,000 pages of financial documents, including confidential tax returns from the father and his companies.

Following the report, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will seek to recoup any taxes that Mr Trump owes it for money he received from his late father.

Mr Trump on Wednesday criticised the report, calling the article an “old, boring and often-told hit piece”.

He tweeted: “The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. 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% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called the story “misleading” and said in a statement that “many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions”.

A lawyer for Mr Trump, Charles J Harder, told the newspaper there was no “fraud or tax evasion” and the facts cited in the report are “extremely inaccurate”.

The New York state tax department said it was reviewing the allegations and “is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation”.

The department typically refers findings to the state attorney general’s office.

The newspaper says the Trump family hid millions of dollars of transfers from the father to his children through a sham company owned by the children called All County Building Supply & Maintenance.

Set up in 1992 ostensibly as a purchasing agent to supply Fred Trump’s buildings with boilers, cleaning supplies and other goods, the father would pad invoices with mark-ups of 20 per cent or even 50 per cent, thereby avoiding gift taxes, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper says that before Fred Trump died in the late 1990s, he transferred ownership of most of his real estate empire to his four living children.

The value of the properties in tax returns summed up to $41.4 million, vastly less than the New York Times says they were worth.

The same properties would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount.

In total, the president’s father and mother transferred more than $1 billion to their children, according to the newspaper’s tally.

That should have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million, based on a 55 per cent tax on gifts and inheritance at the time.

Instead, the children paid $52.2 million, or about 5 per cent.

Statute of limitation

Tax experts cited in the report say Mr Trump is unlikely to face criminal prosecution in helping his parents to evade taxes because the manoeuvres occurred long ago and are past the statute of limitation.

The president’s brother Robert Trump said “all appropriate gift and estate tax returns” were filed, adding in a statement: “Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls.”

The newspaper’s report says documents it reviewed show the future president was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars at the age of three.

By the time Mr Trump had graduated from college, the report says, he was getting the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father.

When he was campaigning, Mr Trump repeatedly boasted of his ability to turn a small loan from his father into his fortune.

“My father gave me a very small loan in 1975,” he said, “and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars.” – Associated Press and agencies