It’s not Trump’s taxes, the whole enchilada, but ProPublica got ahold of property tax documents of the Trump Organization, adding to the growing corpus of financial info on the president that strongly points to Trump deploying a secret financial weapon to maintain the appearance of “successful businessman”—fraud. ProPublica collated financial info from public sources and found the president was reporting different numbers on his properties to lenders and tax authorities. Trump arranged the numbers to paint a rosier picture of his buildings’ performance for lenders to secure cheaper loans, and then rearranged those numbers to look less profitable when reporting to the taxman in order to lower his property taxes.
“The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records,” ProPublica reports. “We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.” The site reviewed records for four Trump buildings and found noticeable discrepancies at two properties in particular—40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street. Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.
“The discrepancies are ‘versions of fraud,’ ” Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California–Berkeley, told ProPublica. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”