Newly Revealed Documents Show Trump Valuing Flagship Properties Differently For Lenders, Tax Collectors
For at least two New York buildings, Trump International Hotel and Tower and 40 Wall St., The Trump Organization consistently claimed lower income and higher costs in its tax filings than it did on documents provided to lenders, ProPublica reports.
ProPublica obtained the tax records for the past nine years for the two above buildings, as well as Trump Tower and 1290 Avenue of the Americas, using New York's Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because The Trump Organization has appealed its tax bill every year for which records are available.
Documents Trump provided to its lender for 40 Wall St., Ladder Capital, said the building was 58% occupied in 2012 and would have substantial leasing momentum in the next few years, ProPublica reports. In 2012 tax documents, Trump said the building was 81% occupied.
The Trump Organization obtained refinancing with Ladder Capital on $160M worth of debt in 2016, but has missed the projected return promised in the Ladder deal in every quarter, ProPublica reports. Ladder Capital Executive Director Jack Weisselberg, who handles loan originations for the public REIT, is the son of longtime Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
The Trump Organization listed insurance costs for 40 Wall St. as $744K in tax filings, $300K more than it claimed in loan documents, ProPublica reports. Trump leases the commercial condo it manages from a German family office, and there is a $400K gap in the annual rent payments it claimed to make in 2015.
Multiple experts interviewed by ProPublica said that while there can often be discrepancies between loan and tax documents, consistent and large differences warrant intense scrutiny. For the slice of Trump International in Columbus Circle that The Trump Organization owns, the company claimed to be receiving more than twice as much in rent in loan documents as it did in tax filings.
Trump has filed lawsuits to stonewall investigations by the Manhattan District Attorney and the House of Representatives asking for tax returns, and both cases look likely to advance to the Supreme Court, ProPublica reports. The U.S. Department of Justice has also intervened in the Manhattan DA's investigation. An IRS whistleblower claims that the Treasury Department has also stepped in to influence a federal audit, the Washington Post reports.
Trump has been accused of manipulating his net worth depending on how it served his business or personal interests by a group that includes the New York Times, which obtained tax records from the 1980s and 1990s that it said proved "outright fraud," and Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Cohen, who testified to Congress that Trump presented two different financial pictures to lenders and the IRS earlier this year, is serving prison time for tax fraud and other offenses.
CORRECTION, OCT. 17, 11 A.M. ET: A previous version of this article misstated Jack Weisselberg's role at Ladder Capital. While he does work in loan originations, he does not lead the department and does not have ultimate decision-making power.