A tax accountant testifies that Trump claimed a decade of enormous tax losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump reported losses on his tax returns every year for a decade, including nearly $700 million in 2009 and $200 million in 2010, his longtime accountant testified Tuesday, confirming long-held 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 businesses 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 criminal tax fraud trial in Manhattan.

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

A prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger, questioned Bender briefly about Trump’s taxes on cross examination, at one point showing him copies of Trump tax paperwork that the Manhattan district attorney’s office fought for three years to obtain, before moving on to other topics.

The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump’s buildings, golf courses and other assets, Charges Helping top executives avoid income tax on the compensation they received in addition to their salaries. This included rent-free apartments and luxury vehicles. The company could face a maximum of $1 million in fines if it is convicted.

Trump is not being charged in the case. He is not expected to testify at the trial. Trump’s former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, testified that he devised the scheme alone and without Trump or his family being aware. Allen Weisselberg, Testimonials As part of a plea agreement, the company also claimed that it benefited from not having to pay him as much salary.

Bender’s testimony occurred on a day of Trump-related legal drama that included the U.S Supreme Court Congress: Clearing the way Get six years worth tax returns for Trump, and some of his companies.

Tuesday was also a day that the judge in New York Attorney general Letitia James’ civil lawsuit against Trump and his company, for civil fraud, set an October 2023 trial; a federal appeals courts Heard arguments In the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago investigation documents; and Sen. Lindsey Graham (a Trump ally). Testimony A Georgia grand jury investigates alleged election interference in 2020.

Bender’s tax loss testimony echoed what The New York Times reported in 2020, when it obtained a trove of Trump’s tax returns. The newspaper reported that many of the records showed huge losses and very little or no taxes were paid.

The Times reported Trump did not pay income tax for 11 of the 18 years that it reviewed. Trump also paid only $750 federal income tax in 2017, which was the year he became President. The Times previously reported that Trump claimed $915.7 Million in losses in 1995, which he could have used in order to avoid future taxes.

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

Bender was responsible for tax returns and financial matters for Trump, The Trump Organization, and hundreds of other Trump entities that were established in the 1980s. He also prepared taxes for members of Trump’s family and other company executives, including Weisselberg and Weisselberg’s son, who managed a company-run ice rink in Central Park.

In exchange for a five month sentence in jail, Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August in avoiding taxes on $1.7 Million in extras.

Bender testified that Weisselberg kept him the dark on that arrangement — and that he only found out about it from prosecutors last year.

Emails exhibited in court Tuesday indicated that McConney tried a loophole in McConney as early as 2013. The spreadsheets attached to Weisselberg’s salary and reductions for extras included Trump-paid tuition in his grandchildren’s private schools.

Bender testified that he received numerous emails daily from Trump executives. He said that he doesn’t remember seeing those messages. If he had, he said: “We would have had a serious conversation about continuing with the client.”

Mazars USA LLP has since dropped Trump from its list of clients. In February, the firm said annual financial statements it prepared for him “should no longer be relied upon” after James’ office said the statements regularly misstated the value of assets — an allegation at the heart of her lawsuit.

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 routinely picked these things up – we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!”

Bender testified that he placed the onus on Weisselberg for fixing any problems after the Trump Organization’s increased scrutiny. He also advised him to end one questionable practice: The company’s tax-saving, long-standing habit of paying executive bonuses as freelance income.

The accountant said he told Weisselberg: “If there is anything bothering you, even if there’s the slightest chance, we have to set the highest standards so the company should be, effectively, squeaky clean.”

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