In an exhaustive deep dive into the finances of Donald Trump, and his real estate mogul father Fred, the New York Times details a pattern of tax avoidance and parental gifts that created the US president’s business empire.
Among other things, the Trump family created many wealth transfer mechanisms of questionable legality. These include making loans that were never paid back, paying the Trump kids through shell corporations and apparently underreporting the value of Fred Trump’s assets, the Times reports. Underreporting value meant the taxes the Trumps paid would be artificially discounted when transferred to the next generation.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.
Trump has never disclosed his own tax returns. The Times report draws on the tax returns of his father, Fred, and covers decades before Donald Trump ever considered running for president. A lawyer for the president said that the report was “100 percent false, and highly defamatory.”