Democrats of all stripes have devoted years to investigating Donald Trump and finding very little. The latest example is Thursday’s indictment of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer for classifying employee benefits as business expenses rather than compensation.
Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed millions of documents and years of tax returns, and that’s all they’ve come up with. The indictment lists 15 criminal counts, including second degree grand larceny. But the evidence in the indictment boils down to misreporting compensation to the Internal Revenue Service and New York tax authorities.
Prosecutors allege that Allen Weisselberg, the 73-year-old accountant and CFO, received as much as $1.76 million in compensation over a 16-year-period—for cars, an apartment rental, and tuition for Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren at a private school—in a way that kept them off the books for tax purposes. The indictment says he avoided paying $901,112 he owed in taxes and collected federal and state tax refunds of $133,124 he wasn’t entitled to.
If true and willful, this is rotten behavior. But it isn’t Teapot Dome, and disguising compensation as expenses is far from unusual in corporate America. It’s typically handled as a civil matter and settled with the payment of back taxes, interest and fines. It is rarely the basis for a criminal indictment.
The prosecutors are throwing the book at Mr. Weisselberg to get him to turn state’s evidence against the former President. The same goes for the highly unusual decision to indict the Trump Organization, which is presumably intended to squeeze its business prospects. Notably, neither Mr. Trump nor his children who run the business were charged.
The political motives at work are transparent. Mr. Vance has pursued Mr. Trump and his tax records for years, even as street and violent crime proliferates in New York City. Ms. James campaigned on a promise to shine “a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.” She all but promised a selective prosecution—that is, pick a target, then search for a crime to allege.
The expectation among Democrats is that the charges will finally diminish Mr. Trump’s political appeal, but will they? Like impeachments one and two, the case gives Mr. Trump another chance to portray himself as the populist knight taking on the corrupt powers that be. If the charges fail in court, and prosecutors have nothing else, Mr. Trump will claim blanket vindication.
Source: Indicting the Trump Organization
This week is why. Mr. Trump, who is not the fool some imagine, knew winning the presidency was a dangerous mishap from a personal legal standpoint. Mr. Trump, until then, mainly tussled with sharpies who wanted only some of his money, not his destruction. He also knew that in our overgrown regulatory state, prosecutors can find something on anybody, even those who conduct their affairs with a scrupulousness foreign to Mr. Trump.
It’s “political,” Mr. Trump says of this week’s charges. Yes, inevitably and partly. That’s why people with Mr. Trump’s deep pockets and checkered history are unwise to go into politics, however much it might benefit the nation to have a broadly welcoming presidential talent pool.
The charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James are over the top for what amount to tax violations related to employee compensation. Larceny? Who stole what from whom? Mr. Trump’s company and its major-domo, Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg —though not Mr. Trump himself so far—are accused of doling out perks as normal business expenses, thereby avoiding personal income and payroll taxes.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer said, probably accurately, that such complaints usually are settled as a civil matter with the Internal Revenue Service for the reasons alluded to above. The IRS cares mainly about getting maximum money at least cost for its enforcement efforts. Not so elected officials such as Mr. Vance and Ms. James. If the prosecution is a giant net loser financially for the state of New York, that’s fine with them.
If the charges are right, among the expenses Mr. Trump picked up for his employees to maximize the bang for his compensation buck were school tuition, a company Mercedes, and free apartments for employees and their family members.
When they had to bring out a stripper to accuse him of nothing much.
Seriously. I didn’t even know it was possible to do business in the city and be that clean. The man is a choir boy.
WELL, BIDEN’S AMERICA IS A BANANA REPUBLIC: Cy Vance’s Trump case is straight from a banana republic — punish your political enemies. “Corporations almost never get criminally prosecuted for this sort of thing, but Vance wanted the name ‘Trump’ in his indictment. You can bet that he would have indicted The Donald if he had the goods. The feds — who’ve been auditing Trump’s taxes forever — haven’t filed charges.”
Related: Trump Organization indictments are a travesty of justice. “Vance acquired years of Trump Organization tax records, yet all he’s found is an alleged failure to pay proper taxes on corporate perks like cars, tuition and apartments. Any other company and it’s a civil suit, an audit, perhaps a hefty fine. If Vance had any evidence suggesting serious fraud (as press leaks long suggested), he’d have included them already. . . . All that Vance & Co. really have is partisan hate, not evidence.”
Carey Dunne, the general counsel of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told state court Justice Juan Merchan that the charges encompassed a 15-year-long tax-fraud scheme [2005 to 2021] involving off-the-books payments at the Trump Organization. He said Mr. Weisselberg had illegally avoided paying taxes on $1.7 million in income.
“There’s no clearer example of a company that should be held to account,” Mr. Dunne said. “It’s not about politics.”
“The scheme was intended to allow certain employees to substantially understate their compensation from the Trump Organization, so that they could and did pay federal, state, and local taxes in amounts that were significantly less than the amounts that should have been paid,” states the indictment. “The scheme also enabled Weisselberg to obtain tax refunds of amounts previously withheld and remitted to federal and state tax authorities.”
It’s not about politics, but the investigation did not start until Donald Trump became president. Okay, bro. Whatever you say. The case details do not help Dunne’s declaration either:
A case solely focused on fringe benefits is unusual, former prosecutors said. Charging an individual or company for failure to pay taxes on employee benefits alone is rare, though such charges are used as part of larger cases.
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty.
For example, the story I reported on four days ago – that the charges New York state is preparing against Trump aren’t going to be what the left has long hoped would drive a stake through his heart – appears to be going forward as previously stated:
They investigated the Trump organization for three years and the best they could come up with is unpaid taxes on fringe benefits? This is the kind of thing you normally handle as a civil matter. In fact, as my prior write-up noted, the Times literally could not find a previous example of a prosecutor filing criminal charges in a similar case. That’s how much of a politicized witch-hunt this entire thing is.
These marginal charges come days after it was leaked that Trump himself would not be charged for anything, and you know that wasn’t from lack of trying. Per RedState’s report on that, there isn’t some other shoe waiting to drop either. This is literally all there is.
Given that, the disappointment on the left is palpable. Here a few comments from the Journal’s breaking post…”Evading taxes on fringe benefits and perks doesn’t sound like the hammer I was hoping for. Surely there’s more.”
As Democrats in Congress and the White House make the case for tax hikes this year, expect a lot of disinformation that will somehow escape the attention of Facebook and Twitter censors. In particular there will be voluminous and erroneous claims about the landmark 2017 Trump tax reform and its impact on wealthy filers. Therefore this is perhaps the perfect moment for a preemptive reality check.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released data on individual income taxes for tax year 2018, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles. The new data shows how taxes changed in the first tax year after passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017.
The data shows that the U.S. individual income tax continued to be progressive, borne primarily by the highest income earners…
The share of reported income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers fell slightly, to 20.9 percent in 2018 from 21 percent in 2017. Their share of federal individual income taxes rose by 1.6 percentage points to 40.1 percent.
Since 2001, the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent increased from 33.2 percent to a new high of 40.1 percent in 2018.
In 2018, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.1 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.9 percent.
The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent).In sum, the richest Americans took on more of the tax burden. Meanwhile, “average tax rates fell for taxpayers across all income groups,” adds Ms. York.
Source: How Trump Taxed the Rich
Larry Correia has a post primarily addressing possible election fraud in the Presidential election. However, his opening comments about audits made me think of something else.
When you run a business you will get audited by the government. If something your company does raises a red flag with the government, they will audit you. If there is an anomaly in your government mandated paperwork you must legally submit, it can trigger an audit. And sometimes, various agencies will just randomly audit you to make sure you are obeying all their regulations.
The IRS audits everyone’s financials to make sure they are paying all their taxes. That’s federal, but you will also be audited by your state tax commission. If your state has sales tax you will eventually undergo a sales tax audit.ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER
My comment was:
Given that if you run a business, you will get audited by the government, it occurs to me to wonder about something.
What does anyone expect to find in Donald Trump’s tax returns that hasn’t already been uncovered by swarms of government auditors, including the IRS?
THE DEMOCRATS PROMISE TO REPEAL THE SALT DEDUCTION LIMIT THAT MADE THIS HAPPEN: 2017 Federal Tax Cut Turned Out To Be Progressive. A Few Lessons For Illinois And Beyond. “For the first time, we have the actual results instead of estimates and assertions.
The New York Times on Sunday caused a stir with their report on President Donald Trump’s tax liability, or lack thereof. The analysis notes that Trump, whose net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion, “paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years,” and paid only $750 in both 2016 and 2017.