MEMO: Trump’s Taxes

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: DNC War Room

DATE: Thursday, July 9, 2020

RE: Trump’s Taxes

The Supreme Court will rule this morning on whether Trump’s tax documents must be turned over to criminal and congressional investigators who have lawfully subpoenaed them. Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to block his taxes from being released, making legally dubious arguments that lower courts have repeatedly ruled against. Trump believes he is above the law, cannot be criminally prosecuted, and should be able to hide his taxes from the American people.

So what is Trump so desperate to hide? Likely a decades-long scheme of stealing from American taxpayers. Reporting has already revealed Trump’s long history of tax fraud, dubiously avoiding taxes, and potentially paying bribes to lower his tax bill. To cover up his years of tax fraud, Trump has lied about his taxes, broken with decades of precedent and refused to release his returns after pledging to do so, and gone to extraordinary lengths to block his taxes from being released.

The American people deserve to know the depth of Trump’s corruption.

Trump broke with decades of precedent and refused to release his tax returns after saying for years that he would if he ran, and suggesting that candidates are hiding something if they don’t.

  • Every major presidential candidate since 1976 had released at least one full tax return.

  • 2012 — TRUMP: “If you didn’t see the tax returns you would think there is almost like something wrong. What’s wrong?”

  • 2014 — TRUMP: “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely.”

  • 2016 — TRUMP: “Well, we’re working on that now. I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time, Chuck. Absolutely.”

  • 2016 — DICKERSON: Your tax returns, when are we going to see them? TRUMP: “I would say, over the next three, four months. We’re working on them very hard.”

Trump repeatedly lied to Americans about his taxes and falsely claimed his returns wouldn’t provide any new information.

  • Washington Post: “Trump falsely claims that voters would learn nothing from his tax returns. To the contrary, voters would learn a lot of information that Trump has long tried to hide from the public. … Four Pinocchios.”

  • PolitiFact: “Trump said that he has ‘released the most extensive financial review of anybody in the history of politics. … You don’t learn much in a tax return.’ … However, experts consider that a red herring. Unlike all presidential nominees since 1980, Trump has not released his tax returns, which experts say would offer valuable details on his effective tax rate, the types of taxes he paid, and how much he gave to charity, as well as a more detailed picture of his income-producing assets. Trump’s statement is inaccurate. We rate it False.”

Trump broke his promises and repeatedly sued to block his taxes from being released to criminal and congressional investigators.

  • Washington Post: “Trump sued his own accounting firm and the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee at the same time Monday — trying an unusual tactic to stop the firm from giving the committee details about Trump’s past financial dealings.”

  • New York Times: “Trump, his three eldest children and his private company filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Deutsche Bank and Capital One, in a bid to prevent the banks from responding to congressional subpoenas.”

  • CNBC: “Trump on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and his longtime accounting firm, days after news broke that the prosecutor had subpoenaed years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.”

Trump’s arguments against the subpoenas are legally dubious and have been repeatedly dismissed by courts.

What we do know: Trump paid close to nothing in taxes for at least five years.

  • Politico: “Trump appears to have paid no taxes for two years in early 1990s”

  • Washington Post: “The last time Donald Trump’s income-tax returns were made public, the bottom line was striking: He had paid the federal government $0 in income taxes.”

  • New York Times: “In 1978 and 1979, the report said, Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes.”

  • New York Times: “Tax court records indicate that Mr. Trump also avoided paying any federal income taxes in 1984.”

  • New York Times: “Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.”

Trump has repeatedly bragged about avoiding paying taxes.

  • TRUMP: “Of course” I avoided paying federal income taxes using a loss from 1995.

  • TRUMP: “She said maybe you didn’t pay taxes and I said well, that would make me smart because tax is a big payment.”

  • CNBC: “Trump brags about not paying taxes: ‘That makes me smart’”

Trump stole from the American people by participating in tax fraud to build his fortune.

  • Trump participated in “dubious tax schemes” and “outright fraud” to avoid taxes on the current equivalent of at least $413 million given to him by his father.

  • Trump’s family even used shell companies to siphon off millions of dollars by marking up purchases they had already made.

  • The Trumps’ scheme for tax dodging also enabled them to fraudulently increase rent on thousands of tenants in rent-controlled apartments.

  • New York Times: “Tax experts briefed on The Times’s findings said the Trumps appeared to have done more than exploit legal loopholes. They said the conduct described here represented a pattern of deception and obfuscation.”

Trump has a long and fraudulent history of avoiding state and local taxes — even potentially paying bribes to get out of paying his fair share.

  • ProPublica: “Trump’s Company Paid Bribes to Reduce Property Taxes, Assessors Say”

  • When Trump was sworn into office, he was fighting at least a half dozen tax bills from local and state governments across the country — creating conflicts of interest.

  • Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to lower his state and local tax bills — suing Palm Beach County five years in a row, filing six lawsuits in New York City, and lobbying for a tax break for his golf course.