In the 1990s, President Trump engaged in “dubious” tax schemes and “outright” fraud in an attempt to increase his parents’ wealth, $413 million of which was later transferred to Trump himself, according to an investigation published Tuesday by The New York Times. The Times reports that, among other illicit strategies, Trump and his siblings set up a fake corporation to hide financial gifts, Trump helped his father illegally claim millions in tax deductions, and Trump led his parents to undervalue their real-estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing tax returns. Much of this wealth trickled down to Trump (the Times notes that he was a millionaire by the time he was eight), and was taxed far less than it would have been if it had been reported properly. The Times adds that Fred and Mary Trump gave more than $1 billion to their children, which could have been taxed at a rate of 55 percent, or $550 million. Instead, it was taxed at about 5 percent, and the Trumps only paid $52.5 million.
One of Trump’s lawyers denied the allegations, writing in a statement to the Times that the “allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory [...] There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.” He added that “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters,” and that “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 Times notes that the statute of limitations has passed for Trump to be criminally prosecuted for helping his parents evade taxes, but that he could be held liable in civil court for tax fraud. According to an Associated Press report, the New York Tax Department is “reviewing” the allegations outlined in the Times report and is “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.”