Newly uncovered tax documents show Trump kept 'two sets of books' and may have committed financial fraud
- Newly uncovered tax documents from President Donald Trump that were obtained by ProPublica contain several inconsistencies that could point to financial fraud.
- The discrepancies in the numbers make some Trump properties look more valuable to lenders and less valuable to tax authorities.
- At least one of the filings was made after Trump took office in 2017.
- The public may soon get a window into the president's closely held financial records, after two separate court rulings ordering Trump to turn over years of tax returns to Congress and New York prosecutors.
- An employee at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also recently blew the whistle on "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's taxes.
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The documents were part of records for four Trump properties in New York City: The Trump International Hotel and Tower, 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas.
Tax records for 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower reportedly contained discrepancies that could raise some red flags. Specifically, the numbers made the properties look more valuable to lenders and less valuable to tax authorities.
In one instance in 2017, according to ProPublica, Trump told a lender that he got twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities that year.
Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, told the outlet she couldn't see why there were inconsistencies in the first place, adding that they look like "versions of fraud."
Trump has been at the center of several financial scandals. The New York Times reported last year that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS.
And in September, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that Trump might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes.
But Trump has long maintained that he has committed no financial or tax crimes. He has said he can't release his tax returns because they are under audit, even though there is no rule to prevent him from doing so.
But the president may soon be forced to give his tax returns to investigators; on October 7, US District Judge Victor Marrero ordered Trump to turn over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors as they investigate whether he violated state laws by fabricating business records.
Days later, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the president to also turn over the last eight years of his taxes to the House Oversight Committee, saying lawmakers have the right to see the documents.
Trump's lawyers have said they will fight both decisions and take it to the Supreme Court if they have to.
But the public may still get a window into the president's closely held financial documents, thanks to an employee at the Internal Revenue Service who recently blew the whistle on "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's tax returns.
According to the Washington Post, the person accused of trying to interfere with the audit is a political appointee at the Treasury Department.
There aren't many government officials who have access to the president's and vice president's tax documents, Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, told Insider.
"The president's and vice president's tax returns are kept in a top-secret vault," Cramer said. "It's code-word-protected, the whole nine yards, and not just anyone can get in there. There are very few people - the head of the Treasury, the head of the IRS - who have access."
Trump was also accused of altering his tax and loan records by Michael Cohen, the president's longtime former lawyer who is currently serving a three-year federal prison sentence for breaking campaign finance laws and tax evasion.
In particular, Cohen accused Trump of inflating and deflating his loan and tax documents, respectively - an allegation that appears to bear similarities to what ProPublica reported this week.
Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the newly revealed tax records, told ProPublica that "it really feels like there's two sets of books," one for lenders and one for tax investigators. "It's hard to argue numbers. That's black and white."