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Trump's financial records show years of tax avoidance and fraud, reveals NYT report

  • A bombshell report by the New York Times made some startling revelations about President Trump’s self-proclaimed billionaire status, his penchant for avoiding federal taxes, his ties with autocratic governments abroad, and the poorly-managed nature of his business empire.
Updated 28 Sep 2020

A bombshell report by the New York Times made some startling revelations about President Trump’s self-proclaimed billionaire status, his penchant for avoiding federal taxes, his ties with autocratic governments abroad, and the poorly-managed nature of his business empire - with the report citing that Trump loses more money than he makes.

Donald Trump’s persona as an exuberant media-savvy billionaire has been embedded into popular culture, which further reinforced the misconception that Trump was an astute business person - which eventually made up the bulwark of his election campaign, a successful businessman “draining the swamp” to run a successful economy.

The New York Times’ report touches upon certain key points, which include:

Inflated business success: According to the report, President Trump declared $1.4 billion in losses from his core businesses from 2008 to 2009, having personally taken loans amounting to $421 million which can will be due in the next four years - posing the question, if President Trump was to win re-election, his lenders would have to make a difficult choice on “whether to foreclose on a sitting president”. His high profile projects, including the iconic Trump Tower, despite the fact that they would be attracting significant investment, would still force the Trump Organization into posting massive losses (approximately $915 million in 1995).

Tax avoidance: The report highlights that despite the shoddy management of the Trump Organization, they have exploited multiple federal loopholes to qualify for tax-exemptions, especially after posting massive losses that have excluded his business conglomerate from any additional tax burden. The Trump Organization, after the construction of the Trump Tower in 1995, incurred losses of $915 million and were subsequently excluded from any tax burden for nearly a decade, and even when Trump’s personal wealth skyrocketed after the launch of the Apprentice in 2005 (having earned $427 million), he paid little to no federal taxes. The report highlighted that President Trump, when in office, paid only an annual sum of $750 in 2017 and 2018 in federal taxes, less than the average American - aggressively pushing forward large-scale tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, a strategy which would benefit his personal business empire in billions of dollars worth of unpaid taxes. These revelations point to a wider pattern of exploitation by the wealthy elite in the United States, considering that large corporations have been systematically excluded from any tax burden, with companies the gargantuan size of Amazon and Apple paying no federal taxes, and going to far as to register themselves as business entities in tax-havens such as Panama and Switzerland.

Conflict of interests with foreign powers: Since President Trump came into office, there have been serious concerns pertaining to not only his conflict of interest with the operating of the Trump Organization, which is now being run by his sons Eric and Don Jr., but also with the potential conflict of interest with foreign powers and autocratic regimes abroad - which would potentially impact American policymaking. The report highlights that in his first two years in office, Trump received $73 million from foreign operations, including $3 million from the Philippines, $2,3 million from India, and even $1 million from Turkey - which raises serious concerns about using his position as President to personally enrich himself and his family.

While these revelations are certainly damning, it is likely that they will have little impact on Trump’s political capital, especially within his dedicated conservative base - especially considering that his presidential competitor has significant baggage, which will undoubtedly be extensively reported by the conservative news spectrum in the country.