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Trump’s self-made claims challenged by father’s tax returns

Donald Trump and father Fred Trump. Photo: Dennis Caruso/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Donald Trump and father Fred Trump. Photo: Dennis Caruso/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

A mammoth New York Times investigation found that Donald Trump had engaged in "dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents."

Why it matters: The report, which relies on confidential Fred Trump (his father) documents and tax returns, shows how Donald Trump built his fortune. Documents suggest that Trump's father provided his son with as much as $60.7 million in loans ($140 million if adjusted for inflation), in contrast to Trump's suggestion he only received $1 million.

Details from the story: "All told, The Times documented 295 distinct streams of revenue Fred Trump created over five decades to channel wealth to his son."

  • "When Fred Trump died in June 1999 at the age of 93, the vast bulk of his empire was nowhere to be found in his estate — testament to the success of the tax strategies devised by the Trumps in the early 1990s."
  • The Times found that Trump received the equivalent of $413 million after questionable tax dealings with this father’s real estate empire during the 1990s.
  • Helped by a variety of tax dodges, the Trumps paid $52.2 million, or about 5%.
  • The IRS reportedly provided little pushback against the Trumps' tactics.
  • Trump reportedly tried to change his father's will when he was sick to benefit himself.
  • His father was “alarmed and angered, feared could result in his empire’s being used to bail out his son’s failing businesses.”

Among the juiciest lines: “By age 3, [Donald Trump] was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. In his 40s and 50s, he was receiving more than $5 million a year.”

  • Fred Trump illegally purchased $3.5 million in casino chips at his son's casino in 1990, ultimately paying a $65,000 fine.

The bottom line: Fred Trump's documents reveal he acted like the stereotype of a rich person, using every possible legal tax loophole (along with some that were less than legal) to pass his fortune to his children.

What's next: "The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation," a spokesman from New York State Department of Taxation and Finance told CNBC.

Go deeper: Full Times story ... NYT takeaways ... Trump statement

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