Unsolved Mysteries About Trump’s Tax Returns

New York

After years of legal battles, arbitrariness and theorizing, former President Donald Trump’s tax return performance from 2015 to 2020 has become part of the public record. Many commentators and political opponents believe that Trump is opposed to the public disclosure of his tax returns because they may provide evidence of illegal or politically damaging actions.

It’s unclear if they did.

However, Trump’s tax returns have raised many questions about the former president’s finances, his business activities, foreign relations and his charitable giving.

Breaking with decades of tradition, Trump became the first elected president since Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns to the public. Trump has struggled for years to keep his tax returns secret when Democratic lawmakers asked them to, and took the fight to the Supreme Court — a legal battle he ultimately lost.

He often claimed during the 2016 presidential campaign that he couldn’t release his taxes because they were being audited, and last week the House Ways and Means Committee revealed that Trump’s 2015 and 2016 taxes were not audited until 2019. The claims were debunked.

For now, the thousands of pages of documents provide only more questions about Trump’s finances and could provide potential avenues for new investigations.

Trump reported having foreign bank accounts, including in China, between 2015 and 2017, his tax returns show.

The tax return will not show what the bank account is used for, nor will it show how much money is transferred through the account or to whom. Trump’s China account was first reported by The New York Times in 2020, and Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the New York Times that the account was used to advance tax payments for Trump International Hotel Management’s business in China.

Trump did not report the Chinese bank account in his personal financial disclosures during his presidency, likely because it was listed under his business. However, he may still be required to report the account to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Trump’s corporate and business interests span the globe. On his tax returns, Trump listed business income, taxes, expenses or other income, taxes, expenses or other originating from or located in Azerbaijan, Panama, Canada, India, Qatar, South Korea, the United Kingdom, China, the Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines Significant financial items, Grenada, U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Georgia, Israel, Brazil, St. Martin, Mexico, Indonesia, Ireland, Turkey, and St. Louis. Vincent.

But the tax returns do not explain what business ties he has in those countries and who he may have worked with during his presidency.

Unlike his predecessors, Trump has refused to divest his business interests while in office. Critics say his many foreign holdings impair his ability to act independently as a politician.

During his presidency, Trump pledged to donate all of his $400,000 annual salary to charity. He often boasts that he donates a portion of his quarterly salary to various government agencies.

If he donates his 2020 salary, he won’t file taxes. Of the six years of tax returns released by the House Ways and Means Committee, 2020 is the only year in which Trump did not list any charitable donations.

That doesn’t mean his salary isn’t being donated, but it’s unclear if he’s making good on his promise in 2020.

For each year of his presidency, Trump claims he has lent to his three grown children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — an undisclosed amount he charged interest on.

The tax returns did not say how much he lent them or why he gave them the loan in the first place.

Between 2017 and 2020, Trump claims he received $18,000 in interest on loans he made to his daughter Ivanka Trump and $8,715 in interest from his son, Donald Trump Jr. Between 2017 and 2019, Trump said he received $24,000 from his son Eric and Trump and Eric paid him $19,605 in interest in 2020.

The bipartisan tax committee said the loan and the amount of interest charged could suggest Trump was disguising gifts to his children. For example, if the interest Trump claims to charge his children is not the market rate, it could be viewed as a gift for tax purposes, requiring him to pay a higher tax rate on the money.

Trump took office with a vast web of business holdings, including hundreds of LLCs, corporations and partnerships that do business at home and abroad.

The size and complexity of his business — including companies nested within each other like Russian dolls — has brought a level of complexity not seen before in a U.S. presidency and raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest, especially with Conflicts of Interest Between Foreign Entities.

Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2015 to 2020, released publicly on Friday, may shed further light on how those businesses have evolved during and shortly after his presidency. But they did not detail where and where the money went.

Since 1977, the IRS has had a policy of auditing every president’s personal tax returns during their tenure. But the IRS did not conduct any inspections of Trump’s tax returns until the Ways and Means Committee requested an audit in April 2019.

When the committee asked Treasury representatives about the apparent lapses, they declined to provide information on how the mandatory audit program actually worked, according to the committee’s report.

It’s not clear whether Trump has been given special treatment or, as the committee noted, the IRS has been bogged down by a severe lack of resources.

The lack of audits looks especially suspicious after representatives of Trump’s predecessors and successors said they had been audited annually by the IRS. A Biden White House spokesman told the Associated Press that the IRS audited Biden in both 2020 and 2021. A representative for former President Barack Obama told the New York Times that the IRS audited him every year during his tenure.

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