New York authorities said Wednesday they will “vigorously pursue” allegations that Donald Trump’s wealth was illegally accrued through “dubious tax schemes and outright fraud.”
The scrutiny follows a bombshell report in the New York Times Tuesday that disputes Trump’s myth of being a self-made businessman, revealing his wealth is based on hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts from his father.
Additionally, the report claims Trump and his siblings “participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s” that included “instances of outright fraud.”
Trump, through his lawyer, said the report is “100 percent false and highly defamatory” but the allegations were enough to interest officials at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
“The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation," a spokesman for the office told CNBC.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he had “directed NYC’s Department of Finance to immediately investigate tax and housing violations and to work with NY State to find out if appropriate taxes were paid.”
The Times report followed an 18-month investigation into Trumpworld finances and was based on interviews with former family associates and more than 100,000 documents, including confidential tax returns, financial records and depositions.
The three reporters who wrote the story did so from a locked room on the fourth floor of the Times’ office.
Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign Trump repeatedly claimed he had received a “very small” $1 million loan from his father Fred, which he later repaid with interest. But the Times’ report claimed he had received at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today’s dollars — much of it never repaid.
In total Fred Trump funneled $413 million from his real estate empire to his son Donald, with much of the wealth transferred through dubious tax schemes.
Before their deaths in 1999 and 2000, Mary and Fred Trump reportedly transferred a total of more than $1 billion in wealth to their children. That should have incurred a tax bill in the region of $550 million, but the Times’ analysis of tax records suggests the Trump family paid just $52 million.
The report also alleges Trump helped his parents undervalue their property empire by hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid tax.
“There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone,” Charles Harder, one of Trump’s pitbull personal lawyers, responded in a statement. “The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also released a statement that read as if it came directly from the U.S. president.
“Fred Trump has been gone for nearly twenty years and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times. Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions,” Sanders said in a statement that did not refute any of the specific allegations made in the report.
Cover image: Donald Trump exits Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on October 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)