Trump engaged in fraud, dubious tax schemes in 1990s: NYT

US President Donald Trump engaged in “dubious tax schemes”, including cases of fraud in which he and his siblings helped their parents dodge taxes in 1990s, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing more than 200 tax returns it has obtained.

During his presidential campaign, Trump promoted himself as a self-made real estate mogul who started out with only a “very small” loan from his businessman father, Fred Trump.

But the New York Times reported that much of that fortune came to Trump because he helped his parents evade taxes, including setting up a sham corporation with his siblings to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents.

The New York Times investigation, which a Trump lawyer said was “extremely inaccurate”, showed Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413m from his father’s real estate business, citing a “vast trove” of confidential tax return and financial records.

“[Donald Trump] 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,” the newspaper reported, adding that “these maneuvers [were] met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service”. 

The New York Times said its findings were based on more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts. The records did not include Donald Trump’s personal tax returns.

‘Virtually no involvement’ 

Charles Harder, Trump’s lawyer, told the New York Times: “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.”

Harder added: “The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”

The New York State Tax Department is looking into the allegations, CNBC reported, citing a spokesman for teh department. 

Citing tax experts, the New York Times reported it was unlikely Trump would face criminal prosecution because the acts were past the statute of limitations. There is no time limit, however on civil fines for tax fraud, according to the newspaper. 

Robert Trump, the president’s brother, told the newspaper in a statement saying that “all appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid”. 

He added: “Our father’s estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities.”

The White House was not immediately available for comment. The New York Times report has not yet been verified. 

The newspaper said the report was based on interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees and advisers and more than 100,000 pages of documents describing the inner workings of his business empire.

“The investigation also draws on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records – bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices and canceled checks,” the New York Times said.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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