By Miriam Raftery
September 29, 2020 (New York) – The New York Times has published an explosive exposé on President Donald Trump’s finances after obtaining 15 years of tax records through 2017, which he refused to make public. Among the top revelations:
- The President owes $421 million in debt—nearly a half billon dollars which will mostly come due during the next four years. Trump has personally guaranteed those debts and it is unclear how he could repay them. Some of the debt appears to be held by foreign interests including nations run by autocrats not considered U.S. allies. The identity of some debt-holders is not disclosed.
- A security clearance is customarily denied to anyone with massive debts due to concerns over potential undue influences from debt-holders seeking favors, because as Washington Monthly writer David Atkins notes, “indebted and financially desperate public servants make easy marks for bribery, blackmail and potential treason.”
- He dodged paying any taxes at all for 10 of the 15 years of records and paid just $750 the year he ran for office and in his first year as President- - less than what most low-wage workers pay.
- Paying zero taxes most years was not due to clever use of legal loopholes but instead because he reported losing much more money than he made.
- Trump deceived voters when he touted himself as a billionaire business mogul when in fact, his financial empire was collapsing after years of massive business losses.
- In his financial disclosure required as president he claimed he made at least $434.9 million, but in fact his IRS tax records show $47.4 million in losses for the same period.
- Trump took business tax write-off of dubious legality including costs of a criminal defense lawyer during an inquiry into his campaign’s ties to Russia and for a mansion that his sons have boasted was used as a family retreat.
- Trump’s most successful recent venture, his role on “The Apprentice,” also had revenues drying up when he ran for president. Since taking office, he has profited off his presidency through numerous conflicts of interest documented by the Times report, including booking lobbyists and foreign officials into his Trump resorts – individuals who sought “face time, access or favor” according to the Times.
- Trump paid far more in taxes to foreign governments than to the U.S.including over $145,000 in India and 156,000 in the Philippines.
- His 1040 tax forms from 1985 to 1994 showed that Trump losses were massive--more than almost any other American taxpayer.
- Trump paid more in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels ($130,000) than he paid to the IRS for many years.
- Trump’s profitable Miss Universe pageant in Moscow,Russia, was funded largely by the Agalarov family, which is closely tied to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and was implicated in setting up the infamous meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering dirt on rival Hilary Clinton’s campaign.
- An IRS audit has sparked a battle over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that Trump received and may ultimately have to pay back with interest and penalties, for a total of over $100 million. The tax refund was granted due to Trump claiming he had abandoned any stake in his money-losing casinos, however he got back 5 percent of stock in a new casino company after bankruptcy proceedings.
- Trump wrote off around $26 million in “consulting fees” on projects including huge consulting fees to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, even though she was also an employee making management decisions on the projects. The IRS has pursued civil penalties in the past against business owners using similar schemes to avoid taxes by paying large fees to family members who were not in fact doing independent consulting work. At least two of the interests for which the alleged consulting fees were paid in Azerbaijan and Turkey have denied that any consultant for the Trump organization was involved.
- Mired in debt, Trump saw his few remaining profitable ventures lose money when the pandemic hit, shutting down his hotels and golf resorts such as Mar al Lago. Trump downplayed the pandemic, lying to the American public about its severity while privately admitting in taped interviews released by reporter Bob Woodward that Trump knew the virus was several times more deadly than the flu and that it posed the most serious national security threat to his administration. Hear the tapes.
Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, has claimed “the facts appear to be inaccurate” in the New York Times investigative report. Garten adds that Trump over a decade has paid “tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government,” however the Times indicates Garten misleadingly included taxes paid for Social Security, Medicare, and taxes for his household employees.