When New York prosecutors were eventually arrested, former President Donald J. If Trump’s federal tax returns get to check, they will discover a truth about how to guide the rich while losing millions of dollars and pay no income tax.
Whether they find evidence of crimes, however, will also depend on other information not found in the actual returns.
United States Supreme Court on Monday Cleared the way Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. For Vance Jr., eight years of Mr. Trump’s federal income tax return and other records from his accountant. The decision ended a long-standing legal battle over prosecutors’ access to information.
The New York Times provided at least one preview last year that looked forward to Mr. Vance, when he Decades and income tax data analyzed For Mr. Trump and his companies. The tax records provide an unprecedented and highly detailed look at Mr. Trump’s Byzantine world of finances, which he has simultaneously disbanded over the years and sought to keep secret.
The Times exam revealed that the former president reported hundreds of millions of dollars in trade losses, went years without paying federal income taxes and faced a $ 72.9 million tax refund Internal Revenue Service audit a decade earlier .
Among other things, records showed that Mr. Trump had just paid $ 750 in federal income taxes No income tax in his first year as president and 10 out of the last 15 years. He also showed that he wrote off $ 26 million in “consulting fees” as a business expense between 2010 and 2018, some of which appear to have been paid to his elder daughter Ivanka Trump, while she was a member of the Trump Organization Were salaried employees.
The legality of the fee, which has reduced Mr. Trump’s taxable income, has since Has become a subject Mr. Vance’s investigation, as well as a separate civil interrogation by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Ms. James and Mr. Vance are Democrats, and Mr. Trump has portrayed many inquiries as politically motivated, denying any wrongdoing.
Mr Vance’s office has released appearances and conducted interviews in recent months as it conducts an investigation Diversity of financial mattersWhich also includes whether the Trump Organization misrepresented the property’s value when receiving a loan or paid property taxes, as well as $ 130,000 during Stephanie Clifford’s 2016 campaign, that porn Film actress named Stormy Daniels. Interviewers included employees of Deutsche Bank, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest lenders.
For all his revelations, Mr. Trump’s tax records are also notable for what he does not show, including any new details about payments to Ms. Clifford, which was the initial focus of Mr. Vance’s investigation when it began two years ago .
Tax returns represent self-reported accounting of revenue and expenses, and often lack the specificity required to know, for example, if tax costs related to hush-money payments are considered as tax write-offs. It was claimed in, or if ever money from Russia. Mr. Trump’s bank accounts went through. The absence of that level of detail underscores the potential value of other records that Mr. Vance used in conjunction with Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.
In addition to the tax returns, Mr. Trump’s accountant, Majors USA, should also prepare business records on which those returns are based and communicate with the Trump Organization. Such material may provide important context and background to the decisions that Mr. Trump or his accountants prepared for tax filing.
John D. Fort, a former head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, said the tax return was a useful tool to uncover leads, but additional financial information could be obtained as a whole.
“It’s a very important personal financial document, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle,” said Mr. Forte, a CPA and director of investigations with Kostelnitz & Fink in Washington. “You have to follow what you find in the return with an interview and subcontract.”
Nevertheless, the Times’ investigation of Mr. Trump’s returns uncovered many misleading statements and lies about his misleading statements and the lies he has publicized about his wealth and business acumen.
Many of Mr. Trump’s claims of liberal philanthropy shattered At the time of examination Their tax returns, which raise questions about both the amount of donations and the overall nature of their tax-deductible giving. For example, he claimed about $ 130.3 million in charitable deductions made since 2005, with pledges not to develop real estate since 2005 yielded an estimated value, sometimes falling through a planned project. later.
At least two of those land-based charitable cuts, one related to a golf course in Los Angeles and the other to the Westchester Estate, called Seven Springs, are considered part of a civil inquiry by Ms. James, who Examining whether tax write-offs that support the assessment were increased.
Broadly speaking, the tax record shows that public revelations as a candidate and then as president have led to a distorted view of his overall finances by reporting flashing numbers for his golf courses, hotels and other businesses. Presented. . The actual bottom line, after losses and expenses, was very bleak: In 2018, while Mr. Trump’s public filings showed $ 434.9 million in revenue, his tax returns declared a total of $ 47.4 million in losses.
And such a serious number was not an anomaly. Many of Mr. Trump’s golf courses, a key component of his business empire, reported losses of $ 315.6 million from 2000 to 2018, while the proceeds from licensing his name to hotels and resorts all entered the White House Had dried up by the time of. In addition, Mr. Trump has multi-million dollar loans, most of which he personally guaranteed, Coming to reason in the next few years.
The Times investigation has also found that it faces a potentially disastrous IRS audit, focusing on the massive refunds it claimed in 2010 that paid all federal income taxes from 2005 to 2008 Covered, as well as interest. Mr. Trump repeatedly cited ongoing audits because of the reason he could not release his tax returns, he said initially, even though nothing about the audit process did not stop him from doing so.
If the IRS ruling were to eventually go against him, Mr. Trump could be forced to pay more than $ 100 million, in addition to factoring in interest and potential penalties, some $ 21.2 million in state and local tax refunds. Apart from that which were based on data. In their federal filings.
Ras Battner And Susan Craig Contributed to reporting.