trump's taxes
October 21, 2020

President Trump maintains a bank account in China, The New York Times reports, and his tax records show that he spent at least a decade attempting, unsuccessfully, to get licensing deals while pursuing other projects in the country.

The Times, drawing on Trump's tax records, found that he has three foreign bank accounts — the other two are in Britain and Ireland — and none of them appear on his public financial disclosures because they are held under corporate names. The account in China is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which paid $188,561 in taxes in China while trying to secure licensing deals from 2013 to 2015.

Trump first started attempting to get licensing deals in China in 2006, the Times reports, and tax records show he specifically created five small companies as part of this endeavor, investing $192,000. He filed multiple trademark applications in Hong Kong and mainland China in 2006, and several were approved after he became president.

Trump International Hotels Management is involved in management of Trump-branded properties around the world, and directly owns THC China Development. It typically only reported a few million dollars in annual income and deductions, but in 2017, the company reported $17.5 million in revenue — more than in the previous five years combined, the Times reports. At the same time, the tax records show, Trump made a $15.1 million withdrawal from the company's capital account. On his public financial disclosures that year, Trump described the revenue figure as "management fees and other contract payments."

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the Times the company "opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes" associated with doing business there. Trump established an office in Shanghai in order to "explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia," Garten added, but "no deals, transactions, or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive. Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose." He would not name the bank in China where Trump has an account. Catherine Garcia

September 22, 2020

The Manhattan district attorney's office said in a court filing Monday that President Trump and his family company could face several criminal charges stemming from its ongoing investigation of the Trump Organization, listing insurance and criminal tax fraud, falsification of business records, and scheme to defraud. The filing, with the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, was careful not to accuse Trump or his business of any crimes, but it said public reports of wrongdoing justify District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s subpoena for Trump's tax filings from Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA.

Vance's office is squaring off against Trump in a long legal battle that has already gone to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Vance's favor. The high court dismissed Trump's argument that he has total immunity from prosecution, but it did allow Trump to seek to block the subpoena for his tax records on narrower grounds. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump's revamped argument that Vance's request was too broad, and a 2nd Circuit appellate court panel is hearing oral arguments Friday.

"A mountainous record of criminal convictions and public allegations of misconduct, of which the court may take judicial notice, further confirms the reasonableness of the Mazars Subpoena's timeframe and its specific document requests," Carey Dunne, general counsel in Vance's office, wrote in Monday's filing. "Even if the grand jury were testing the truth of public allegations alone, such reports, taken together, fully justify the scope of the grand jury subpoena."

The public is unlikely to learn what's in Trump's closely guarded tax filings before Election Day, even if the appellate court allows Vance's office immediate access to the filings and the Supreme Court declines to weigh in again. The tax records would be examined by a grand jury, in proceedings guarded by secrecy rules, and they would become public only if submitted as evidence after Vance's office filed charges against Trump or his business. Peter Weber

October 15, 2019

Before he fought to keep his tax returns private, President Trump wanted to release them — to show the world how smart he was for lowering his taxable income, a former adviser told CNN.

Sam Nunberg, who served as Trump's political adviser from 2011 to August 2015, said that over lunch in 2013, Trump said he would be fine with his tax returns being released as part of a presidential bid. Nunberg, who did not see the returns himself, told CNN that Trump "thought he could defend the return. I inferred from the conversation that he believed that it was a lower number and he'd look savvy." Another one of Trump's former senior advisers who joined the pair for lunch corroborated Nunberg's account.

In May 2014, Trump declared on Irish television that he would "absolutely" release his tax returns if he decided to run for office, but Nunberg said that six months later, he talked him out of it. During a meeting, he told Trump that under federal election rules, all he had to do was release a broad financial statement, and could leave the tax returns under wraps. Nunberg told CNN he thought this would protect Trump from opponents who might find something explosive in the tax returns. Trump was fine with this, Nunberg added, because "he wanted to look rich rather than smart."

Trump wouldn't announce he was entering the race for another eight months, and he went on to become the first nominee of a major party not to release their taxes in more than three decades. The president's tax returns are now the focus of several legal challenges, and Trump lost an appeal last week to keep House Democrats from subpoenaing his returns from his longtime accountant. Catherine Garcia

September 23, 2019

Prosecutors in New York pushed back on Monday against an argument from President Trump's attorneys that a sitting president cannot be subjected to a criminal investigation.

Trump is trying to block a grand jury subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, and sued the New York County District Attorney's office last week. His attorneys say this subpoena is unconstitutional and should be suspended until Trump is out of office.

The prosecutors, investigating hush-money payments made in 2016 to two women who said they had affairs with Trump, sent the subpoena to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA. In their Monday court filing, prosecutors said Trump does not have "sweeping immunity" and is "seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential 'tax return privilege,' on the theory that disclosing information in a tax return will necessarily reveal information that will somehow impeded the functioning of a president, sufficiently to meet the test of irreparable harm."

Trump's claim is hurt by the fact that "every president since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns before or upon taking office, which has to date never impeded a president's ability to serve," prosecutors said. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday. Catherine Garcia

May 23, 2019

One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) arguments against opening impeachment proceedings against President Trump is that House Democrats are actually winning their oversight battles with the White House. And in fact, a second federal judge green-lighted congressional subpoenas of Trump's financial records on Wednesday, and two of Trump's lenders — Wells Fargo and TD Bank — have reportedly already handed over some financial records.

On the other hand, Trump's lawyers plan to appeal the rulings on his Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and accounting records, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over Trump's tax returns, despite a law that says he "shall," a subpoena, and a memo from IRS lawyers agreeing he has little choice. New York may have just given House Democrats a workaround on Trump's tax returns, though.

On Wednesday, the New York state Assembly and Senate gave final approval to a law that would allow three congressional committees — House Ways and Means, Senate Banking, and Joint Committee on Taxation — to request the state tax returns of any elected or top appointed official. It covers both business and personal tax returns filed in the state. New York is Trump's home and the headquarters of many of his core businesses, and the information on his state returns should be very similar to what's on his federal returns.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs the legislation — a spokesman said he is reviewing it carefully — it will take effect immediately. That would probably provide House Democrats their fastest path to viewing Trump's tax returns — though the law, like all the other avenues, might have to overcome a court challenge first. Peter Weber

May 21, 2019

A confidential draft Internal Revenue Service memo directly contradicts Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's reason for not turning over to Congress President Trump's tax returns, The Washington Post reports.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally requested Trump's tax returns last month; under a 1924 law, he is one of a handful of top lawmakers with the authority to do so. Mnuchin has refused to give Neal the returns, claiming Congress does not have a "legitimate legislative purpose" to request the documents.

The memo, obtained by the Post, states otherwise, asserting that it is "mandatory" the returns are disclosed, as the law "does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met." The only way the IRS can refuse to comply with a Congressional subpoena "would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege," the memo states, which has not happened.

The IRS told the Post the draft was prepared in the fall by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel, and does not represent the "official position" of the agency. Trump has not released his tax returns on his own, first claiming that he can't do so because he is under audit, and later saying no one could understand his complex filings anyway. Catherine Garcia

May 7, 2019

In 1985, two years before releasing his book The Art of the Deal, President Trump purchased several properties, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, and reported losses of $46.1 million from his casinos, hotels, and retail space in apartment buildings, The New York Times reports.

The Times obtained tax information from 1985 to 1994 that shows Trump's businesses lost more than $1 billion over the decade. Trump spent the 1980s boasting about his business talents; the figures show that in 1985, he borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars in order to purchase a $351.8 million casino, $60 million hospital, and $85 million undeveloped railroad yards. He also borrowed $10 million to buy Mar-a-Lago.

The Times reports that it took Trump 10 years to make any money off Mar-a-Lago; it cost $18.7 million a year to carry the rail yards; and it took five years to turn the hospital property into a building with apartments that could be sold. In 1985, Trump also owned a United States Football League team, the New Jersey Generals, but the league soon folded. He did have one win that year: He purchased the Hotel St. Moritz in Manhattan for $73.7 million, and sold it in 1989 for $180 million.

Because most of his businesses were not created as partnerships, Trump was on the hook for federal income taxes. In addition to losing $46.1 million in 1985, his tax information shows he also carried over $5.6 million from earlier losses, the Times reports; in fact, IRS data on one-third of high-income tax returns shows that for 1985, only three other taxpayers had greater losses that year. Under the tax code, business owners can use their losses to keep from paying taxes on future income. This is known as a net operating loss, and by 1991, the Times says, Trump's net operating losses had grown to almost $418 million, or 1 percent of all the losses reported to the IRS by individual taxpayers that year.

For more on Trump's heavy losses in other years — including 1989, when he purchased an airline that never made any money, and 1990, when he opened his debt-laden Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — visit The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

May 7, 2019

Tax information obtained by The New York Times shows that from 1985 to 1994, President Trump's businesses lost more than $1 billion — so much that he did not have to pay income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

The Times received printouts of Trump's Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with figures from his 1040 forms, from someone who has legal access to them. Every year, the IRS releases information compiled from a sampling of high-income earners, and the Times discovered upon comparison that "year after year," Trump "appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer."

In 1990 and 1991, Trump reported losses of more than $250 million each year, indicating that his core business losses "were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the IRS information for those years," the Times reports. Trump, who has long boasted about his business acumen, has not released his tax returns like every other president has over the last 40 years.

The House Ways and Means Committee has asked for the last six years of Trump's business and personal tax returns, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday announced the documents will not be turned over, despite the committee chair's legal authority. A lawyer for Trump, Charles J. Harder, told the Times that IRS transcripts "particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate" and "would not be able to provide a reasonable picture of any taxpayer's return." Read more at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

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