Tax officials in New York state said they will be “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation” after an extensive New York Times story alleged President Donald Trump committed “instances of outright fraud” by dodging taxes and boosting the money he got from inheritances.
The investigation, published Tuesday, claimed that Trump’s parents, Fred and Mary, transferred over $1 billion to their children. By setting up a sham corporation, using improper tax deductions, and dramatically undervaluing his parents’ real estate holdings, Trump reportedly avoided paying nearly half-a-billion dollars worth of taxes.
“The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the New York Times article,” a spokesman told CNBC. “[It] is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” The state tax department is already investigating the Trump Foundation as to whether it misrepresented its tax liability; Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer and fixer, was subpoenaed by investigators about the probe in August.
Along with avoiding taxes, the Times investigation also revealed the massive amount of cash Trump was given by his father, starting when he was just a toddler. According to the investigation, Trump was receiving $200,000 a year by the time he was three years old, and was given part ownership of an apartment building by the time he was 17. When he was in college, Trump was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year. In fact, Fred Trump made every effort to funnel wealth to his children, repeatedly loaning Donald Trump money and having him on the company books in a variety of roles, including landlord, property manager, and consultant.
The damning claims clash with the version of himself Trump has presented — painting himself a self-made businessman who transformed a single $1 million loan from to his father (which he says he paid back “with interest”) into a $10 billion empire.
The Trump family flatly deny the allegations. “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Charles Harder, Trump’s lawyer, said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
Crucially, the 100,000 pages of documents the Times used to investigate Trump’s alleged tax avoidance did not contain details of the president’s tax returns, which the president and congressional Republicans have repeatedly refused to release publicly. It also has no insight into Trump’s business dealings abroad, which have repeatedly raised fears about money laundering.