We now know what Trump was trying to hide by holding back his tax returns

“The Times story makes clear the supposedly wealthy president often paid no income taxes while his businesses regularly lost vast sums of money, and he himself was on the hook for increasing sums in loans. All of that is politically damaging enough to Trump’s image, and likely a sufficient reason to work hard to keep the tax returns secret.

But there’s likely another reason behind Trump’s reticence — because reporters would scour his returns for legally dubious claims, and put the pieces together to how he was trying to snooker the IRS.

That’s just what ended up happening here. For example, Buettner, Craig, and McIntire sussed out that mysterious write-offs for consulting fees on certain Trump projects matched the amounts of payments to Trump’s daughter Ivanka. And there’s far more in the Times’s excellent piece.

One major theme of the Times piece is that the IRS audit of Trump is extremely serious, and that he could end up owing the US government more than $100 million. So reporters’ scrutiny of his tax returns might not just be politically problematic for Trump — they could also be financially and legally problematic.” 

“Trump did indeed pay zero in income taxes from 2011 to 2014, and a paltry $750 in 2016 and 2017. He pulled this off by claiming that his businesses lost massive amounts of money. He has $421 million in debt due in the next few years, and he could owe $100 million more to the US government if he loses his audit battle with the IRS.”

“the specific reason Trump paid no taxes is embarrassing — because his businesses lost tons of money. (At least, that’s what he claims; keep in mind that the tax return information is his representation of his businesses to the IRS.)

To be clear, some parts of Trump’s business really do make money — for instance, The Apprentice sent cash pouring in, and Trump Tower is profitable. But Trump avoids paying taxes on these profits because he’s claimed such massive losses from other parts of his business empire.” 

“there’s clearly some legally questionable stuff in there.

For instance, the records obtained by Buettner, Craig, and McIntire show that Trump wrote off $26 million in supposed consulting fees as a business expense between 2011 and 2018. But the reporters took the added step of uncovering where some of that money was going — and they figured out that some of those write-offs matched payments to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, as revealed on her own financial disclosure forms.

Ivanka was an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, not some outside consultant. And sources told the Times that there were no outside consultants involved in certain projects for which Trump’s businesses wrote off consulting fees.

The Times story also mentions other questionable practices — Trump dubbed a Westchester, New York, mansion an “investment property” so he could write off property taxes on it, but his son Eric Trump called it “our compound.” The Trump Organization also wrote off Donald Trump Jr.’s legal fees for the lawyer who represented him in the Russia investigation.”


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