Do read the blockbuster report out by the New York Times on the Trump Family Taxes.
Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But The Timesâ€™s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his fatherâ€™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 parentsâ€™ 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.
This all might have been criminal at the time, but unfortunately it’s all past the statute of limitations.
By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in todayâ€™s dollars from his fatherâ€™s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s.
Horatio Alger would have been proud.
Fred Trump was relentless and creative in finding ways to channel this wealth to his children. He made Donald not just his salaried employee but also his property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He gave him loan after loan, many never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stocks, money for his first Manhattan offices and money to renovate those offices. He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from his buildings.
Much of his giving was structured to sidestep gift and inheritance taxes using methods tax experts described to The Times as improper or possibly illegal. Although Fred Trump became wealthy with help from federal housing subsidies, he insisted that it was manifestly unfair for the government to tax his fortune as it passed to his children. When he was in his 80s and beginning to slide into dementia, evading gift and estate taxes became a family affair, with Donald Trump playing a crucial role, interviews and newly obtained documents show.
The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All Countyâ€™s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trumpâ€™s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trumpâ€™s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All Countyâ€™s owners â€” Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.
Good ol’ American ingenuity, huh?
All told, The Times documented 295 streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades to enrich his son. In most cases his four other children benefited equally. But over time, as Donald Trump careened from one financial disaster to the next, his father found ways to give him substantially more money, records show. Even so, in 1990, according to previously secret depositions, Mr. Trump tried to have his fatherâ€™s will rewritten in a way that Fred Trump, alarmed and angered, feared could result in his empireâ€™s being used to bail out his sonâ€™s failing businesses.
How heart warming. And there’s lots and lots more. So much more.Â And as you read it, keep reminding yourself that if Dems take back the House, the head of the House Financial Services Committee will be Maxine Waters. And Maxine Waters could subpoena all of Trump’s bank records and tax returns.
See also this Forbes article about how Trump is trying but failing to make money off the presidency. So much winning.