In light of the 15 felony count indictment handed down against Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg for avoiding taxes and hiding compensation, the New York Times reports that the schemes being used have been longstanding practices at the company dating back to when Donald Trump's father, Fred, ran the business.
According to the report from the Times' Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, "Long before Donald J. Trump's company was accused of plotting detours around the tax code to compensate its chief financial officer with carpeting, televisions and car leases, there were the $16,135 boilers. The boilers were bought for that amount by Mr. Trump's father, Fred, in the 1990s for his numerous apartment buildings. But in a bit of financial alchemy that embodied the family ethos of paying as little tax as possible, the elder Mr. Trump used inflated invoices to pay the bill and the extra money was skimmed off for his children — all to avoid gift and inheritance taxes."
Case in point, the authors note, financial filings for the company show questionable unusual and high expenses including, "Hundreds of millions of dollars in deductions for business expenses ran the gamut, from $6 for food in Uruguay and $10 for using a telephone in Panama to $13.7 million for 'sales and marketing' in Las Vegas."
The report goes on to note self-dealing arrangements where invoices were inflated and family members skimmed off money for themselves by using a shell company.
"Among the Trump family's machinations was the creation in 1992 of All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company that existed mainly on paper. It was co-owned by Donald Trump, his three siblings and a cousin, John Walter," the report notes. "Vendors who sold goods and services to Trump properties were asked to send invoices to All County, which would pad the actual cost by an additional 20 percent or more and bill Fred Trump, who paid the inflated amount. The extra money was then split among the former president, his siblings and Mr. Walter."
As for Donald Trump, the report adds, "The Times's 2020 investigation of Mr. Trump's tax records found that by using hundreds of millions in losses from his businesses, as well as by deducting expenses and taking advantage of tax credits, he was able to pay only $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, and none at all in 10 of the previous 15 years. His aggressive strategies led to an Internal Revenue Service audit, which is believed to be continuing, of the legitimacy of a $72.9 million refund he claimed."
The Times reports that there are hints in the Weisselberg indictments that those dealings -- including paying employees consulting fees while at the same time already giving them a regular paycheck -- is likely being scrutinized.
"Beyond the case against Mr. Weisselberg, the 25-page indictment hints at potential trouble for others at Mr. Trump's company, saying the attempts to avoid declaring compensation and paying taxes extended to at least two other employees who are not identified. Prosecutors also take aim at the Trump Organization's practice of reporting certain income as "non-employee compensation," which is normally not subject to payroll deductions," the Times report adds.
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