ProPublica recently reported that President Trump’s Trump Tower in Manhattan showed discrepancies in the occupancy rates it provided to lenders and tax authorities.
ProPublica obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Law request and they showed that the occupancy rates provided to lenders was a good bit higher than the occupancy rates provided to tax authorities. For instance, in 2012, Trump’s business reported to lenders that the occupancy rate for the Manhattan flagship property was 99%, but tax filings from that same year showed that they reported a rate of 83%.
Susan Mancuso is a New York property tax attorney, and she told reports that this type of discrepancy is a “very significant difference.” ProPublica reported that over a dozen tax and property experts familiar with the situation couldn’t find a good reason for the discrepancy.
ProPublica reported that in 2012, Trump refinanced his share of Trump Tower to the tune of a $100 million loan, and that this figure provided to lenders probably helped secure that loan.
The Trump Organization spoke to ProPublica through a representative and said that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges.”
Of course we have reported on COUNTLESS financial scandals with Trump at the heart of all of them. Notably, The New York Times reported last year that Trump employed dubious tax schemes to helped hide a $400 million inheritance from the IRS. $400 million. Hidden.
Then just this past September, Mother Jones reported an investigation that found that Trump might have lied about a loan to get out of paying $50 million in income taxes. $50 million. Avoided.
Even so, Trump continues to deny any wrongdoings or any criminal behavior involving his finances or taxes. Although he’s been pressed relentlessly, he maintains that he cannot release his tax returns because they are “under audit” even though there are zero rules that say he can’t release them.
Some are hopeful that those returns may soon be open to all. On October 7, US District Judge Victor Marrero ordered Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, to hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors. Then they will determine whether or not any state laws were violated.
Trump’s lawyers pushed back, asking the Supreme Court to get involved while prosecutors are imploring the Supreme Court to resist the President’s request.
But just days later, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with the US District Judge and ordered the handing over of the returns to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay, but that doesn’t mean the public’s window to the presidents tightly gripped documents are closed. An IRS employee recently blew the whistle on “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit of Trump’s returns.
In a past report from The Washington Post, it was revealed that a political appointee at the Treasury Department was the person who allegedly tried to interfere with the audit.
As we’ve reviewed before, there are very few government officials who have access to the president and vice president’s tax documents. Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor with a long history at the Justice Department said, “The president’s and vice president’s tax returns are kept in a top-secret vault… It’s code-word-protected, the whole nine yards, and not just anyone can get in there. There are very few people — the head of the Treasury, the head of the IRS — who have access.”
Lastly, any conversation on Trump finances that doesn’t involve his fallen-from-grace former lawyer Michael Cohen isn’t quite giving the entire picture. Remember, Cohen is now serving a three year federal prison sentence due to campaign finance violations and tax evasion, moreover, he accused Trump of inflating and deflating his loan and tax documents- and this allegation seems to be similar to the recent and previous reports from ProPublica.
Experts have weighed in, as well, and many agree, including Kevin Riordan, who is a financing expert and real-estate professor at Montclair State University. He reviewed the tax records obtained by ProPublica and said, “it really feels like there’s two sets of books.” He added, “It’s hard to argue numbers… That’s black and white.”