Trump’s tax affairs to be investigated by New York authorities

Move follows newspaper report regarding the US president’s business practices

In Donald Trump’s version of how he got rich, he was the master dealmaker who parlayed a $1 million loan from his father into a $10 billion empire. But a New York Times investigation shows a different reality. Video: New York Times

 

New York state authorities are to open an investigation into Donald Trump’s tax affairs, following an explosive report in the New York Times regarding the US president’s business and tax practices.

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

The newspaper reported that Mr Trump engaged in dubious tax schemes “including instances of outright fraud” during his career. This included helping to formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ property holdings to avoid paying tax when those properties were transferred to Mr Trump and his siblings.

The White House hit out at the reports. “The New York Times’ allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 per cent false, and highly defamatory,” Charles J Harder, a lawyer for Mr Trump said.

The president denounced the report through his Twitter account. “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!”

Mr Trump apparently referred to how the newspaper adjusted for inflation in its calculations.

‘Recycled news’

According to the report, Mr Trump received the equivalent of $413 million in today’s money from his father, the real estate developer Fred Trump. The president has repeatedly said in campaign rallies and TV appearances that he received $1 million from his father, which he repaid with interest and turned into billions during his career as a real estate developer in New York and elsewhere.

The report also claims that Mr Trump wanted to change his father’s will to help make him sole executor of his estate, a move that angered his father.

Addressing reporters at the White House on Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the report as an “old recycled news story” but she refused to be drawn on the details.

“I’m not going to sit and go through every single line of a very boring 14,000-word story,” she said. “The one thing the article did get right was that it showed that the president’s father actually had a great deal of confidence in him. In fact, the president brought his father into a lot of deals. They made a lot of money together, so much so that his father went on to say that everything he touched turned to gold.”

Mr Trump famously refused to release his tax returns when he was elected to the office of president, breaking with the tradition of past presidents.

Presidential alerts

In addition to the threat of a New York state investigation, Mr Trump could face renewed scrutiny of his tax affairs should Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in November’s mid-term elections. Senior Democrats on key finance committees have indicated that they could subpoena documents relating to Mr Trump’s tax returns.

As Mr Trump spent the day at the White House, millions of Americans received a presidential test alert on their mobile phones. Minutes later, televisions and radio stations across the country broadcast the test message. The messages are designed to warn the populace of an impending emergency such as a pending missile attack. Officials said that the president could not personally trigger an alert.

Meanwhile, national security adviser John Bolton said the US was revising all international agreements that could expose it to the International Court of Justice, after the UN body ordered Washington to ensure that sanctions against Iran did not affect humanitarian aid or aviation safety.