President Donald Trump wrote off payments to his daughter Ivanka as a tax deduction for “consulting fees,” according to a revelatory New York Times investigation into the president’s taxes published Sunday night.
The reporting, drawn from tax returns obtained by outlet, reveals the extent to which Trump avoided paying taxes. He wrote off myriad business expenses as deductions, ranging from property taxes to legal fees to $70,000 for hairstyling.
He also wrote off as “consulting fees” related to his businesses.
“There appears to be a closer-to-home explanation for at least some of the fees: Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by treating a family member as a consultant, and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business,” the Times wrote.
The reporters matched up the tax records with Ivanka Trump’s financial disclosures, filed when she became a White House senior adviser. They found that more than $700,000 in payments she disclosed pertaining to a consulting company were the same amount as the tax deductions for “consulting fees” on a pair of hotel projects listed on the Trump Organization’s tax records.
At the time, Ivanka Trump was a top executive at the Trump Organization, not an outside consultant. People close to Trump’s businesses “were not aware of any outside consultants who would have been paid,” the Times reported.
The reporters believe this is likely a common practice Trump has used to avoid paying taxes, and could potentially be a way to have paid his adult children without incurring gift taxes.
“If the payments to his daughter were compensation for work, it is not clear why Mr. Trump would do it in this form, other than to reduce his own tax liability,” they wrote.
Among the many other revelations in the Times’ report: between 2011 and 2014, Trump paid $0 in income taxes; in both 2016 and 2017, he paid only $750 in income taxes; and years of failed business ventures and bankruptcies have left him with $421 million of debt and loans.
For years, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, something every president since Richard Nixon has done. During his 2016 campaign, he claimed he could not disclose his tax information because he was under IRS audit. In response, the IRS said that being under audit does not bar anyone from releasing their tax information.