The Times’ investigation found what it described as “dubious tax schemes” in the 1990s that even included “instances of outright fraud” Donald Trump participated in to enhance the fortune his parents passed on to him. Its reporting countered Trump’s narrative 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 — the publication said it examined a “trove of confidential tax returns and financial records” showing that Trump received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from when he was a child through the present day.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that he would renew his request for the committee to obtain Trump’s tax returns when the new Congress convenes in January whether Democrats “are in the majority or the minority.”
“A decision on what to do with those documents will be made when the Committee has reviewed them,” he added.
In a Wednesday letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig, which was obtained by Business Insider, Wyden called on the commissioner to investigate the allegations put forth in The Times report. In particular, Wyden highlighted the “All County Building Supply & Maintenance” company, which The Times reported was formed by the Trump family in 1992 to siphon millions from Fred Trump’s empire by marking up purchases that were already made.
The Times described that company as a sham that was “the most overt fraud” scheme the Trumps engaged in.
“These media reports represent serious and credible allegations of potentially illegal tax fraud, based on extensive documentation,” Wyden wrote. “It is not clear whether the statute of limitations has expired in all cases. It is imperative that IRS fully investigate these allegations and prosecute any violations to the fullest extent of the law.”
Tax experts told The Times it’s unlikely Trump could be open to criminal prosecution because the acts happened long ago, though there is no statue of limitations on civil fines.
‘More scrutiny is certainly warranted’
On Tuesday, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance told Business Insider it’s looking into the allegations.
“The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation,” a spokesperson said in an email.
A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General’s Office declined to comment to Business Insider on whether it was pursuing any investigation into the allegations.
Other Democrats, however, echoed Wyden and expressed concerns over the report.
“These new revelations raise extremely serious questions that deserve much more direct and thorough answers than we’ve gotten so far from the President’s lawyer,” Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told Business Insider in a statement. “I never understood why President Trump fought so hard to keep his tax returns secret from the American people, but given these new documents — and the President’s record of concealing derogatory information about his finances — more scrutiny is certainly warranted.”
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, meanwhile, highlighted the anti-corruption legislation she has pushed as speculation builds about her possible 2020 presidential run. She said that legislation, if passed, would make it mandatory for Trump to release his tax returns.
“If @realDonaldTrump was willing to go to such incredible lengths to hide how he really “made” his fortune – what’s stopping him now from bilking the presidency and American taxpayers for everything they’re worth?” she tweeted.
Republicans were mostly quiet regarding The Times report. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told reporters that the story was “a testament to how crazy and complicated the tax code is in general.”
Trump, his attorney, and the White House have blasted the report.
Trump’s attorney Charles Harder said in a statement to The Times that the article was “100% false and highly defamatory.”
After calling the 14,000 word story “very boring,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during Wednesday’s press briefing that the report got just one thing correct: that Trump’s father “had a lot of confidence” in his son.
Asked whether the president’s taxes are still under IRS audit, which Trump said was the reason he could not release them during the 2016 presidential campaign, she said “a number of his taxes are still” being reviewed. She said she was aware of no plans to release the tax returns.
Trump responded to the story in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying The Times “used the concept of ‘time value of money’ in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me.”