Trump Tower kept 2 sets of books for taxes and lenders: ProPublica – Business Insider

President Donald Trump presented two different sets of occupancy rates for Trump Tower Manhattan — one for lenders and one for tax authorities — according to documents acquired by ProPublica. 

The documents acquired through a freedom of information request show that in information provided to lenders the occupancy rate was declared as higher than in information provided to tax authorities. 

In 2012, Trump told lenders that the occupancy rate in his flagship property in New York was 99%, but in tax filings that same year the occupancy rate was given as 83%, according to ProPublica.

Susan Mancuso, an attorney who specializes in New York property tax, told the outlet that the discrepancy is a “very significant difference.” More than a dozen tax and property experts who reviewed the documents for ProPublica said they could find no good reason for the discrepancy.

That year Trump secured a $100 million loan on good terms by refinancing his share of Trump Tower, a loan which the figures provided to lenders may have helped secure.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization told ProPublica that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges.”

trump tower

Trump Tower in Manhattan
Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Trump’s financial scandals

Trump has been at the center of several financial scandals. The New York Times reported last year that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS.

And in September, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that Trump might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes.

But Trump has long maintained that he has committed no financial or tax crimes. He has said he can’t release his tax returns because they are under audit, even though there is no rule to prevent him from doing so.

But the president may soon be forced to give his tax returns to investigators. On October 7, US District Judge Victor Marrero ordered Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors investigating whether he violated state laws by fabricating business records.

Trump’s lawyers filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case, while prosecutors have urged the justices to deny the president’s request.

Days later, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered Mazars to turn over the past eight years of his tax returns to the House Oversight Committee, saying lawmakers have the right to see the documents.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Monday blocking the appeals court ruling. The justices are likely to consider the two cases alongside one another because both deal with Trump’s efforts to block his accounting firm from complying with subpoenas after two separate appeals courts struck down his attempts.

IRS whistleblower could be key to the public seeing Trump’s tax returns

But the public may still get a window into the president’s closely held financial documents thanks to an employee at the IRS who recently blew the whistle on “inappropriate efforts to influence” the agency’s audit of Trump’s tax returns.

According to the Washington Post, the person accused of trying to interfere with the audit is a political appointee at the Treasury Department.

There aren’t many government officials who have access to the president’s and vice president’s tax documents, Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, told Insider in an earlier interview.

“The president’s and vice president’s tax returns are kept in a top-secret vault,” Cramer said. “It’s code-word-protected, the whole nine yards, and not just anyone can get in there. There are very few people — the head of the Treasury, the head of the IRS — who have access.”

Trump was also accused of altering his tax and loan records by Michael Cohen, his longtime former lawyer who is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for campaign-finance violations and tax evasion.

In particular, Cohen accused Trump of inflating and deflating his loan and tax documents, respectively — an allegation that appears to bear similarities to what ProPublica reported this week and in October.

Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real-estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the newly revealed tax records, told ProPublica last month that “it really feels like there’s two sets of books,” one for lenders and one for tax investigators.

“It’s hard to argue numbers,” Riordan said. “That’s black and white.”

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