Trump’s Tax Revelation Destroys Successful Business Mogul Image
The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for office and paid no income taxes at all in many others threaten to undercut a pillar of his appeal among blue-collar voters and provide a new opening for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on the eve of the first presidential debate. Trump’s Tax Revelation Destroys Successful Business Mogul Image
Trump has worked for decades to build an image of himself as a hugely successful business mogul — even choosing that moniker as his Secret Service code name. But The New York Times on Sunday revealed that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and in 2017, his first year in office.
He paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the previous 15 years, largely because he reported losing more money than he made, according to the Times, which obtained years’ worth of tax return data that the president had long fought to keep private.
The development comes at a particularly precarious moment for Trump, whose Republican campaign is struggling to overcome criticism of the president’s handling of the pandemic. It hands Biden an easy attack line heading into Tuesday’s debate. And with early voting already happening in some states and Election Day just over a month away, Trump may be running out of time to turn his campaign around.
Of course, Trump has repeatedly faced — and survived — devastating turns that would have sunk any other politician. That includes, most notably, the stunning “Access Hollywood” tape released in October 2016, in which Trump was recorded bragging about kissing and groping women without their permission.
The video’s release came just two days before Trump was set to face then-candidate Hillary Clinton in their second debate and was considered a death knell to his campaign at the time.
At this point in the race, with voting already underway in many states and so few voters still undecided, it is unclear whether any new discoveries about Trump would make any difference. Trump’s support over the years has remained remarkably consistent, polls over the course of his presidency have found.
Yet the tax allegations go to the very heart of Trump’s appeal, especially among the blue-collar voters in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who propelled him to the presidency in 2016. Trump was supported by about two-thirds of white voters without college degrees, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, versus only about 2 in 10 nonwhite non-college graduates.
Indeed, in a Gallup poll from February 2016, Republicans who wanted to see Trump win their party’s nomination cited his experience as a businessman as the second-most important reason they backed him, surpassed only by his status as a non-politician and an outsider.
Even today, when asked to explain their support for Trump, voters often point to his success in business as evidence of his acumen. And they often repeat his talking point that he gave up a great deal to serve as president, citing his sacrifice as evidence that he ran for the job not out of self-interest, but because he cares about improving the lives of people like them.
But the image of a man flying around in private jets from one luxury property to another and paying less in taxes than millions of Americans with far more modest lifestyles could prompt a backlash similar to the one 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney faced after he was secretly recorded at a closed-door fundraiser saying that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes were “dependent upon government” and would never vote for him.
″(M)y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said.
Roughly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes, but the average income tax paid in 2017 was nearly $12,200, according to the IRS.
Democrats wasted no time in seizing on the news, with the Biden campaign’s online store already selling stickers saying “I paid more income taxes than Donald Trump” on Sunday night.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted an emoji calling on followers to raise their hands “if you paid more in federal income tax than President Trump.”
“That’s why he hid his tax returns. Because the whole time, he wasn’t paying taxes. But you were,” added Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
And Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the new report highlights the importance of the House Democratic lawsuit against the Trump administration to access Trump’s tax returns.
“This reporting shines a stark light on the vastly different experience people with power and influence have when interacting with the Internal Revenue Service than the average American taxpayer does,” he said in a statement.
In addition to the news about Trump’s annual payments, the Times found that many of his best-known businesses, including his golf courses, reported huge losses, and that, as he faces an uphill battle for reelection, his finances are under particular stress thanks to “hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed.” Trump is also under audit over a $72.9 million tax refund that could cost him more than $100 million if the IRS rules against him, the Times revealed.
The development comes after Biden recently stepped up his efforts to paint Trump as a charlatan who has lied to his working-class supporters. In contrast, Biden has tried to highlight his own middle-class upbringing.
The election, Biden has said, is “Scranton vs. Park Avenue,” pitting Biden’s boyhood hometown in Pennsylvania against Manhattan, where Trump built his branding empire and reality television career.
“This clearly plays straight into that contrast that Biden has opened up,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran strategist of multiple Democratic presidential campaigns.
Trippi said coming into the debate, Biden now has something he can concretely point to as he tries to sway the slim margin of voters who remain undecided.
“You move a few points of working class voters, and you’re talking about Biden winning in places like Ohio,” Trippi said.
Conant, who worked on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, noted how defensive Trump became when Rubio, during a primary debate, charged that Trump “would be selling watches in Manhattan” had he not inherited tens of millions of dollars from his father, Fred.
Trump raised an index finger in the air, yelling, “No, no, no, no,” as he sought to interrupt Rubio and insisted that he had instead borrowed money. “That is so wrong,” he said.
“So long as this campaign is all about Trump,” Conant said, “he’s going to lose.”
Trump Declines To Say How Much He Has Paid In Federal Income Taxes
President denies New York Times report that he paid $750 a year in 2016 and 2017.
President Trump declined to say how much he has paid in federal income taxes after a new report alleged that he paid $750 a year in 2016 and 2017, and no income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years.
“I paid tax,” Mr. Trump said at the White House on Sunday, without providing specifics.
Mr. Trump disputed a report earlier in the day by the New York Times, which attributed its findings to more than two decades of his tax return data. Asked to give the American people an idea of how much he has paid, he said, “I’ve paid a lot, and I’ve paid a lot of state income taxes, too.”
During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised to release his tax returns but didn’t, breaking a 40-year tradition of major-party presidential candidates and presidents doing so.
Mr. Trump isn’t required by law to release his tax returns publicly, though no law prevents him from releasing them. He has cited continuing Internal Revenue Service audits as a reason not to disclose his returns. During the campaign, his tax lawyers said he was still under audit for the tax years dating back to 2009. Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to release specifics about his taxes.
Democrats say the president’s tax returns could shed light on conflicts of interest and the president’s compliance with tax law, and have sued for access to the records. New York prosecutors are also seeking Mr. Trump’s returns as part of a probe into possible bank or insurance fraud.
Mr. Trump paid little to no taxes largely because he reported losing more money than he made in those years, the Times reported.
Between 2010 and 2018, Mr. Trump wrote off some $26 million in consulting fees as a business expense across nearly all of his projects, according to the report, with no detail on the fees.
Some of those fees matched payments that Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, reported on financial disclosures when she joined the White House staff. That suggests she may have been treated as a consultant on the same hotel deals that she helped manage as part of her job at her father’s business.
Alan Garten, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization, said the New York Times report was inaccurate and questioned the timing of its publication weeks ahead of the presidential election. “Over the past decade the President has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government,” he said.
The Times said the documents show millions in revenue from endorsements and licensing deals, as well as some real estate ventures, paired with massive losses from golf courses. “The Apprentice” and deals that followed were particularly lucrative, the Times said, bringing in $427.4 million for Mr. Trump.
International ventures also brought in money, including from the Philippines and Turkey, raising concern about possible conflicts of interest. The tax documents do not “reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.”
What Other Presidents Paid In Federal Taxes In Year of Election
Kind of interesting to see what other Presidents in both parties paid in federal taxes in the year they became President…..here’s the list:
* Ronald Reagan paid $165,202
* George HW Bush paid $101,382
* Bill Clinton paid $62,670
* George W. Bush paid $250,221
* Barack Obama paid $1,792,424
* Donald Trump paid $750.00. And the billionaire Trump paid just $750.00 in 2016 and another pittance of $750.00 in 2017.
So you want to know what Joe Biden paid in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Joe Biden paid $92,198 and in 2017 he paid $3,742,974 and in 2019 he paid nearly $300,000.
Tax Records Show 200 Entities Funneled Money To Trump Properties While Reaping Benefits From White House
A New York Times analysis of tax records showed that more than 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments have funneled millions of dollars to President Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from the president and his administration.
Nearly a nearly a quarter of the entities have not been previously reported.
Sixty patrons who promoted specific interests to the Trump administration spent almost $12 million on expenses associated with the Trump Organization during the first two years of Trump’s presidency. The Times reported nearly all of these customers saw their interests move forward.
In interviews with almost 250 business executives, club members, lobbyists, Trump property employees and current administration officials, sources detailed to the Times how Trump conducted business and interacted with customers who were seeking help from the administration.
The newspaper also used Trump’s tax return data, lobbying disclosures, Freedom of Information Act requests and other public records to construct a database of groups, companies and governments that had business before the administration and spent money at Trump properties.
The Trump Organization’s customers included foreign politicians, Florida barons, a Chinese billionaire, a Serbian prince, clean-energy advocates, petroleum industry leaders, small-government advocates and contractors. The newspaper noted that some of the president’s customers did not see their interests fully fulfilled but noted “whether they won or lost, Mr. Trump benefited financially.”
More than 70 advocacy groups, businesses and foreign governments held events at Trump Organization properties that previously were at different locations or developed new events to be hosted at the properties. Religious organizations also participated by throwing prayer meetings, banquets and tours on Trump properties.
At least two dozen patrons who reserved events for 2017 and 2018 at Trump properties had interests involving the administration. The analysis also found that more than 100 companies that sought action from the federal government spent money at Trump properties.
The Times noted that the tax records do not include all payments to Trump properties, but additional data is tracked by the town of Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club is located. Organizations that had special interests reported spending $3.3 million on events at the club from 2017 to now.
The records and membership rosters for Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., also show how much money his business was making once he sat in the White House.
Being a member of his clubs also allowed leaders to get time with the president and sometimes his support, as he offered ambassadorships to five members and chose others for advisory roles in his administration.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere told The Hill in a statement that the Times report was “just more fake news.”
“This is yet another politically-motivated hit piece inaccurately smearing a standard business deal,” he said. “During his years as a successful businessman, Donald Trump was long-time partners with Phil Ruffin and earned whatever payments he received. This is the same 2016 playbook that the American people rejected resoundingly.”
Deere told the Times in a statement that the president “turned over the day-to-day responsibilities” of the Trump Organization to his two adult sons.
Trump Records Shed New Light On Chinese Business Pursuits
As he raises questions about his opponent’s standing with China, President Trump’s taxes reveal details about his own activities there, including a previously unknown bank account.
President Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there.
Senate Republicans produced a report asserting, among other things, that Mr. Biden’s son Hunter “opened a bank account” with a Chinese businessman, part of what it said were his numerous connections to “foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.”
But Mr. Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times.
The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr. Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear.
The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management L.L.C., which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.
The tax records do not include details on how much money may have passed through the overseas accounts, though the Internal Revenue Service does require filers to report the portion of their income derived from other countries.
The British and Irish accounts are held by companies that operate Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, which regularly report millions of dollars in revenue from those countries. Trump International Hotels Management reported just a few thousand dollars from China.
In response to questions from The Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said the company had “opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes” associated with efforts to do business there. He said the company had opened the account after establishing an office in China “to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia.”
“No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” Mr. Garten said. “Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose.”
Mr. Garten would not identify the bank in China where the account is held. Until last year, China’s biggest state-controlled bank rented three floors in Trump Tower, a lucrative lease that drew accusations of a conflict of interest for the president.
China continues to be an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, from the president’s trade war to his barbs over the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. His campaign has tried to portray Mr. Biden as a “puppet” of China who, as vice president, misread the dangers posed by its growing power.
Mr. Trump has also sought to tar his opponent with overblown or unsubstantiated assertions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings there while his father was in office.
“He’s like a vacuum cleaner — he follows his father around collecting,” Mr. Trump said recently, referring to Mr. Biden’s son. “What a disgrace. It’s a crime family.”
In a misleading claim amplified by surrogates like his son Donald Trump Jr. and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president has said the younger Mr. Biden “walked out of China” with $1.5 billion after accompanying his father on an official trip in 2013.
Numerous news articles and fact-checking sites have explained that the huge figure was actually a fund-raising goal set by an investment firm in which Hunter Biden obtained a 10 percent stake after his father left office. The firm did receive financial backing from a large state-controlled bank, but it is not clear the fund-raising target was ever met, and there is no evidence Hunter Biden received a large personal payout.
As for the former vice president, his public financial disclosures, along with the income tax returns he voluntarily released, show no income or business dealings of his own in China. However, there is ample evidence of Mr. Trump’s efforts to join the myriad American firms that have long done business there — and the tax records for him and his companies that were obtained by The Times offer new details about them.
As with Russia, where he explored hotel and tower projects in Moscow without success, Mr. Trump has long sought a licensing deal in China. His efforts go at least as far back as 2006, when he filed trademark applications in Hong Kong and the mainland. Many Chinese government approvals came after he became president. (The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump also won Chinese trademark approvals for her personal business after she joined the White House staff.)
In 2008, Mr. Trump pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou that never got off the ground. But his efforts accelerated in 2012 with the opening of a Shanghai office, and tax records show that one of Mr. Trump’s China-related companies, THC China Development L.L.C., claimed $84,000 in deductions that year for travel costs, legal fees and office expenses.
After effectively planting his flag there, Mr. Trump found a partner in the State Grid Corporation, one of the nation’s largest government-controlled enterprises. Agence France-Presse reported in 2016 that the partnership would have involved licensing and managing a development in Beijing. Mr. Trump was reportedly still pursuing the deal months into his first presidential campaign, but it was abandoned after State Grid became ensnared in a corruption investigation by Chinese authorities.
It is difficult to determine from the tax records precisely how much money Mr. Trump has spent trying to land business in China. The records show that he has invested at least $192,000 in five small companies created specifically to pursue projects there over the years. Those companies claimed at least $97,400 in business expenses since 2010, including some minor payments for taxes and accounting fees as recently as 2018.
But Mr. Trump’s plans in China have been largely driven by a different company, Trump International Hotels Management — the one with a Chinese bank account.
The company has direct ownership of THC China Development, but is also involved in management of other Trump-branded properties around the world, and it is not possible to discern from its tax records how much of its financial activity is China-related. It normally reports a few million dollars in annual income and deductible expenses.
In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years’ combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company’s capital account.
On the president’s public financial disclosures for that year, he reported the large revenue figure, and described it only as “management fees and other contract payments.” One significant event for the company that is known to have occurred in 2017 was the buyout of its management contract for the SoHo hotel in New York, which Bloomberg reported to have cost around $6 million.
Mr. Garten would not comment on the specific amount cited by Bloomberg, but said that the contract buyout represented a “significant portion” of the company’s revenue and that the remaining money was not related to China.
Outside of China, Mr. Trump has had more success attracting wealthy Chinese buyers for his properties in other countries. His hotels and towers in Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia — locales known for attracting Chinese real estate investors — have found numerous Chinese purchasers, and in at least one instance drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During the 2016 campaign, a shell company controlled by a Chinese couple from Vancouver bought 11 units, for $3.1 million, in the Las Vegas tower Mr. Trump co-owns with the casino magnate Phil Ruffin. The owner of a Las Vegas-based financial services firm told The Times he was later visited by two F.B.I. agents asking about the company behind the purchases, which he said had used his office address in incorporation papers without his knowledge. It is not known what became of the inquiry.
Mr. Garten said the Trump Organization had “never been contacted by the F.B.I. and has no knowledge of any investigation.”
In Vancouver, numerous Chinese buyers of units in Mr. Trump’s hotel and tower helped increase licensing fees from that project to $5.8 million in 2016, the year it was completed, according to tax records.
The project was built by a Canadian-based firm controlled by the family of one Malaysia’s richest men, Tony Tiah Thee Kian, who operates hotels in China and elsewhere. CNN reported in 2018 that the Vancouver operation was the subject of a counterintelligence review related to Ivanka Trump’s need for a security clearance.
And not long after winning the 2016 election, Mr. Trump reported selling a penthouse in one of his Manhattan buildings for $15.8 million to a Chinese-American businesswoman named Xiao Yan Chen, who bought the unit, previously occupied by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, in an off-market transaction. Ms. Chen runs an international consulting firm and reportedly has high-level connections to government and political elites in China.
Mr. Trump’s tax records show that he reported a capital gain of at least $5.6 million from the penthouse sale in 2017, his first year as president.
NYC Tax Agency Subpoenaed In Probe of Trump’s Company
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has issued a subpoena to the New York City Tax Commission as part of its criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s company, Reuters reported on Friday.
The news agency said that the tax commission’s president, Frances Henn, had confirmed the subpoena.
The documents could help investigators determine whether the Trump Organization inflated property values to secure favorable terms on loans while deflating those values to lower property tax bills, according to the report.
The subpoena would likely compel the tax agency to provide income and expense statements the company filed to lower tax assessments on some commercial properties, according to Reuters, which cited anonymous sources it said were familiar with the commission’s operations.
Those filings would typically include valuations by the company to challenge market values by the city’s tax assessors, the people told Reuters.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office declined to comment to Reuters. A representative for Trump and a Trump Organization lawyer didn’t respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
New York Attorney General Probe of Trump Organization Now A Criminal Investigation
The investigation is no longer ‘purely civil in nature,’ state officials tell the former president’s firm.
The New York attorney general’s office’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s business now has a criminal component, a spokesman said Tuesday night, joining the Manhattan district attorney’s office probe and expanding a monthslong inquiry that had been focused on civil fraud.
“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” said Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is conducting an investigation into possible bank fraud and other potential crimes.
Separately, the top local prosecutor in the Atlanta area is probing whether Mr. Trump improperly tried to influence election officials last year.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Trump again called the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, a partisan witch hunt. “There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime. But, make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here,” Mr. Trump’s statement said.
The New York attorney general’s civil investigation became public last August, when the office said it was looking into whether the Trump Organization and President Trump improperly inflated the value of Mr. Trump’s assets in financial filings. Attorney general’s office investigators have probed several Trump properties, including his sprawling upstate New York estate Seven Springs, a Financial District skyscraper at 40 Wall St., and Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, a hotel and residential complex, according to court filings.
The New York attorney general has limited capacity to investigate crimes. Its criminal investigatory authority extends to the sale of securities, labor-law violations and Medicaid fraud, among other matters. It can also be asked to investigate crimes by the head of several New York state agencies, including the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
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