Former president claimed massive tax losses for years, accountant says

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donald trump reported losses on his tax returns every year for a decade, including nearly $700 million ($1.05 billion) in 2009 and $301 million in 2010, his longtime accountant testified today , confirming longstanding suspicions about the former president’s tax practices.

Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP who spent years preparing Trump’s personal tax returns, said Trump’s reported losses from 2009 to 2018 included net operating losses from some of the many companies he he owns through his Trump organization.

“There are losses for all these years,” said Bender, who was granted immunity to testify at the company’s tax evasion trial in Manhattan.

The Trump Organization has reported massive tax losses for years, its former accountant has revealed. (AP)

The short exchange amounted to a rare public discussion of Trump’s taxes – which the Republican has fought to keep secret – even though there was no obvious connection to the case at hand.

A prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger, briefly asked Bender about Trump’s taxes during cross-examination, at one point showing him copies of Trump’s tax documents that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been fighting for three years. to get, before moving on to other topics.

The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump’s buildings, golf courses and other assets, is responsible for helping certain top executives avoid income tax on compensation they received in addition to their salaries, including rent-free apartments and luxury cars. If convicted, the company could be fined more than $1.5 million.

Trump is not charged in the case and is not expected to testify or attend the trial. The company’s former chief financial officer testified that he came up with the scheme on his own, without the knowledge of Trump or the Trump family. Allen Weisselberg, testifying in a plea deal, said the company also benefited because it didn’t have to pay him as much salary.

Donald Bender, left, was granted immunity to testify. (AP)

Also on Tuesday, the judge in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud trial against Trump and company set a trial date for October 2023; a federal appeals court heard arguments as part of the investigation into the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago documents; and Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, testified before a Georgia grand jury investigating alleged interference in the 2020 election.

Bender’s tax loss testimony echoes what The New York Times reported in 2020, when he obtained a treasure trove of Trump’s tax returns. Many records reflected massive losses and little or no taxes paid, the newspaper reported at the time.

The Time reported that Trump paid no income tax in 11 of the 18 years whose records looked at him, and that he paid just $1,130 in federal income tax in 2017, l year he became president. Citing other Trump tax filings, the Times previously reported that in 1995 he claimed $1.38 billion in losses, which he could have used to avoid future taxes under the Act. era.

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for 2024 exceptionally early.
Donald Trump has announced his 2024 presidential candidacy. (AP)

Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed Bender’s firm in 2019, seeking access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns and related documents, eventually obtaining them after a lengthy legal battle that included two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court .

Bender handled tax filings and other financial matters for Trump, the Trump Organization, and hundreds of Trump entities beginning in the 1980s. He also prepared taxes for Trump’s family members and d other company executives, including Weisselberg and Weisselberg’s son, who ran a company-run ice rink in Central Park.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to dodging taxes on $2.56 million extras in exchange for a five-month prison sentence, said he hid extras paid by the company such as Manhattan apartments and Mercedes-Benz cars from his taxable income by having the corporate comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, reduce his salary by the cost of those benefits.

Bender testified that Weisselberg kept him in the dark about the arrangement — and that he wasn’t told about it by prosecutors until last year.

But emails shown in court on Tuesday suggested McConney tried to loop it as early as 2013, with attached spreadsheets listing Weisselberg’s salary and discounts for extras, including tuition paid by Trump for the private education of his grandchildren.

Bender, who testified that he received numerous emails from Trump executives daily, said he did not recall seeing those messages. If he had, he said, “We would have had a serious conversation about the lawsuit with the client.”

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Mazars USA LLP has since dropped Trump as a client. In February, the company said the annual financial statements it had prepared for him “should no longer be relied upon” after James’ office said the financial statements routinely misrepresented the value of assets – an allegation at the heart of his trial.

Trump blamed Bender and Mazars for the company’s troubles, writing on his Truth Social platform last week: “The highly paid accounting firm should have picked these things up regularly – we rely on them. VERY UNFAIR! “

Bender testified that it was Weisselberg’s responsibility to resolve any issues as scrutiny of the Trump Organization intensified after Trump’s election in 2016 and advised him to end a questionable practice: the company’s long-standing, tax-saving habit of paying bonuses to executives as independent income.

The accountant said he told Weisselberg: “If there is something that bothers you, even if there is the slightest chance, we must set the highest standards so that the company is, indeed, perfectly clean. .”

Former president claimed massive tax losses for years, accountant says

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