NEW YORK – New York City will seek any taxes that President Donald Trump should have paid for money he received from his late father, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, following a New York Times report on the transactions.
“It’s clear to me that there are real ramifications right now to what has been disclosed, either potential violations of law, or in cases where the statute of limitations has ended that there may be very serious civil penalties that can be applied by both the state and the city,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “The city of New York is looking to recoup any money that Donald Trump owes the people of New York City, period.”
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump received vastly more from his father than he has previously stated and that his father backstopped his son’s businesses during times of financial distress. The newspaper reported that the family used a variety of schemes — some potentially illegal — to minimize its taxes.
The newspaper said its findings discredited Trump’s claims that he is a self-made billionaire who had received only a $1 million loan from his father. The newspaper said it had reviewed 100,000 documents, including the elder Trump’s tax returns, to calculate that Trump and his siblings had received the equivalent in today’s dollars of $413 million worth of assets. The elder Trump was a successful real-estate developer active throughout the city’s boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
The state Finance Department said Tuesday that it would open an investigation into the allegations. The department had previously begun investigating the president’s charity, the Trump Foundation.
De Blasio said the city and state would work together on the new probe. Under New York and federal law, there’s no statute of limitations to pursue civil tax cases if authorities suspect an intent to evade taxes. Generally, the activities described by the paper would be too old to lead to a criminal inquiry.
The mayor faulted both city and state officials for failing to effectively scrutinize the Trump family’s tax payments for decades.
“There was a good-old-boy network that obviously Donald Trump played like a fiddle and evaded the kind of regulation and investigation and prosecution he should have received many times over,” de Blasio said. “He finagled and paid his way to being able to escape the kind of scrutiny and prosecution he deserved. And honestly, if a lot of people in New York state had done their jobs he would never have been president of the United States.”
The mayor and president have clashed over issues including immigration, post-hurricane aid to Puerto Rico, universal health insurance, criminal justice and tax policy.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said: “Fred Trump has been gone for nearly 20 years, and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times.”
She added that “many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions.”
Charles J. Harder, a lawyer for Trump, called the newspaper’s reporting “100 percent false. There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
If the allegations are proved true in court, the millions of dollars in evaded taxes represent “money that could be going to veterans, could be going to seniors, could be going to kids, that he should have paid in taxes and didn’t,” the mayor said.
Trump himself shrugged off the Times’ investigation as a boring, rehashed “hit piece.”
Trump has often boasted that he built a real estate empire from a $1 million loan from his father, himself a prominent New York builder.
The Times said the documents it reviewed showed he actually received at least $413 million in today’s money.
“They used the concept of ‘time value of money’ in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!”
Forbes magazine, meanwhile, estimated Trump’s fortune at $3.1 billion — the same as last year, but a third smaller than it was in 2015. Forbes ranked Trump’s fortune at 259 in the world, down from 248 the year he was elected president.