New York Times report says Trump engaged in 'outright fraud' to avoid taxes as he inherited father's wealth - worth more than $400 million in today's dollars

Donald TrumpDonald Trump.Evan Vucci/AP

  • The New York Times released an extensive investigation focused on President Donald Trump's fortune on Tuesday.
  • The Times reported that the president and his family engaged in "instances of outright fraud" to enhance their wealth.
  • The story also runs counter to Trump's narrative that he is a self-made billionaire.

The New York Times reported in an extensive investigation published Tuesday that President Donald Trump engaged in what it described as "dubious tax schemes" in the 1990s that even included "instances of outright fraud" that enhanced the fortune his parents - mainly his father, Fred - passed on to him.

What The Times reported runs counter to Trump's personal narrative, which he has repeated for decades: that he is a self-made billionaire who built his own empire.

While The Times was not able to review Trump's personal tax returns - which he has refused to release, breaking with decades of precedent for presidential nominees - it examined "trove of confidential tax returns and financial records." They revealed Trump received at least $413 million in today's dollars from when he was a small child through the present day.

The Times reported that this money was passed on to Trump because he assisted his parents in dodging taxes, setting up a sham corporation and helping his father take millions in improper tax deductions.

The Internal Revenue Service apparently did not offer much "resistance" to the schemes, The Times wrote.

In total, The Times reported that the president's parents transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their kids, an amount that could've produced as much as $550 million in tax revenue. Instead, the Trumps paid just north of $50 million in taxes.

Charles Harder, an attorney for the president, told The Times in a statement that the report is "100% false and highly defamatory."

Trump's brother, Robert Trump, also issued a statement to The Times.

"All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid" following their parents' deaths, Robert wrote. "Our father's estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother's estate was closed in 2004."

Harder, the White House, and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Here's are the key points from The Times report:

  • Tax experts told The Times it's unlikely these findings open Donald Trump up to criminal prosecution, because the actions happened too long ago.
  • He could still face civil fines, however.
  • The Times reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents.
  • By the time he was 3 years old, Donald Trump was earning $200,000 per year in today's dollars. By the time he was 8 years old, he was a millionaire.
  • Soon after graduating college, Trump was earning the equivalent in today's dollars of $1 million annually from his father.
  • That increased to more than $5 million annually when Donald Trump was in his 40s and 50s.
  • Trump's father gave millions to his kids in a way that was structured to sidestep gift and inheritance taxes. Experts told The Times the methods were suspect, possibly even illegal.
  • When Donald Trump and his siblings gained ownership of their father's real estate empire in 1997, they dodged hundreds of millions in taxes by undervaluing the properties.
  • They then sold off the properties for 16 times the amount they were listed at, which was just north of $41 million.
  • The Trump family in 1992 formed what The Times described as "the most overt fraud," a company called All County Building Supply and Maintenance.
  • Its purpose was to be a purchasing agent for their father's buildings. It did not function in that manner, the Times said.
  • The company instead was used to siphon millions from the elder Trump's empire by marking up purchases that were already made.
  • The Times found 295 revenue streams Fred Trump created to enrich his sons over five decades.
  • In 2004, the Trumps sold off their father's empire. The future president made $177.3 million off the sale.
  • By 1990, Fred Trump had transferred today's equivalent of $46.2 million to Donald Trump.
  • Had Donald Trump done nothing but invest all the money Fred Trump gave him into an index fund tracking the S&P 500, he would be worth $1.96 billion today.
  • Trump said his father only gave him a $1 million loan, but he actually lent him at least $60.7 million, The Times found. That is $140 million in today's dollars.
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