New York expands Trump tax fraud investigations to include write-offs: report
Two separate New York state investigations into allegations of fraud by President Trump and his businesses are now reportedly looking into tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to the president’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The New York Times.
The Times reported that a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D) and a civil probe by the state Attorney General Letitia James (D), which are being conducted independently, have both apparently issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks for records in connection to the write-offs.
This comes after a Times investigation published in September based on more than two decades of Trump’s tax records found that he had deducted approximately $26 million in fees to unidentified consultants on several projects between 2010 and 2018.
The Times found that some of the fees appeared to have been paid to Ivanka Trump. Citing a 2017 disclosure, the Times reported that the presidential adviser included payments from a consulting company she co-owned, totaling $747,622, exactly equaling consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia.
A source with knowledge of the matter told the Times that the subpoenas were focused on fees paid to the firm on her disclosures, TTT Consulting LLC, and accounted for a portion of the $26 million.
According to the Times, the name of the firm apparently refers to Ivanka Trump and other members of her family.
With Ivanka Trump serving as an executive officer of the Trump companies that made the payments, she appears to have been simultaneously treated as a consultant.
The IRS requires that consulting fees be market-based and reasonable, as well as “ordinary and necessary” to running a business.
Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, said in a statement to the Times that the reported expansion of New York’s investigations “is just the latest fishing expedition in an ongoing attempt to harass the company.”
“Everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of counsel and tax experts,” Garten said. “All applicable taxes were paid and no party received any undue benefit.”
Ivanka Trump quickly responded to the Times’s report on Twitter on Thursday, echoing Garten’s claims of a “fishing expedition” and adding that the investigations counted as “harassment pure and simple.”
“This ‘inquiry’ by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage,” she added. “They know very well that there’s nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.”
This fishing expedition is very clearly part of a continued political vendetta ⤵️https://t.co/Gw0IKOWdeQ
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 20, 2020
The offices of the district attorney and the attorney general declined to comment when contacted by the Times.
The district attorney investigation is the only active criminal case into the president, although little has been publicly disclosed since Vance began the probe two years ago. At its start, the investigation was brought out of the Trump Organization’s role in hush money given to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
The president has filed a lawsuit to block the investigation’s subpoena for his tax returns, stalling the probe since last fall. The battle is currently being brought forth before the Supreme Court.
James’s civil investigation came after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, told Congress that the president had inflated reports of his assets when requesting bank loans and underreported them when seeking to receive lower taxes.
The president has repeatedly pushed back against the investigations, calling Vance’s probe part of “the greatest witch hunt in history.”