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Trump’s tax returns aren’t the only crucial files prosecutors will get

When New York prosecutors can finally review former President Donald J. Trump’s federal income tax returns, they’ll discover a real how-to guide to getting rich while losing millions of dollars and paying little to no tax on Income.

However, whether they find evidence of crimes will also depend on other information that is not in the actual statements.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to obtain eight years of federal tax returns from Mr. Trump and other documents from his accountants. The ruling ended a long legal battle over prosecutors’ access to information.

Last year, The New York Times gave more or less a glimpse of what lies ahead for Mr. Vance, when it obtained and analyzed decades of tax data for Mr. Trump and his businesses. The tax records offer an unprecedented and highly detailed look into the Byzantine world of Mr. Trump’s finances, which he has simultaneously bragged about for years and sought to keep a secret.

The Times review showed the former president reported hundreds of millions of dollars in business losses, spent years without paying federal income tax, and was facing an Internal Revenue Service audit. ‘a $ 72.9 million tax refund he claimed ten years ago.

Among other things, records revealed that Mr. Trump had paid only $ 750 in federal taxes in his first year as president and no income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years. They also showed that he wrote off $ 26 million in “consulting fees” as a business expense between 2010 and 2018, some of which appears to have been paid to his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, while she was employee of the Trump organization.

The legitimacy of the fees, which reduced Mr. Trump’s taxable income, has since become a subject of Mr. Vance’s investigation, as well as a separate civil investigation by Letitia James, the New York attorney general. Ms James and Mr Vance are Democrats, and Mr Trump has sought to portray the multiple investigations as politically motivated, while denying any wrongdoing.

Mr Vance’s office has issued subpoenas and conducted interviews in recent months as it examined a variety of financial matters, including whether the Trump organization had distorted the value of assets when obtaining loans or the payment of property taxes, as well as the payment of $ 130,000 in silent money. during the 2016 campaign to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actress whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. Among those interviewed were employees of Deutsche Bank, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest lenders.

Despite all their disclosures, Mr Trump’s tax records are also noteworthy for what they do not show, including new details about the payment to Ms Clifford, who was the original subject of Mr Vance when she started two years ago.

Tax returns represent self-reported income and expense accounting, and often lack the specificity required to know, for example, whether legal fees related to discrete payments have been claimed as a tax waiver, or whether the money of Russia once scanned Mr. Trump’s bank accounts. The lack of that level of detail underscores the potential value of other documents Mr. Vance had access to with Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.

In addition to tax returns, Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, are also required to produce business records on which those returns are based and communications with the Trump organization. Such documents could provide important context and context for the decisions Mr. Trump or his accountants have made when preparing the tax return.

John D. Fort, former head of the IRS’s criminal investigations division, said tax returns were a useful tool in uncovering leads, but could only be fully understood with additional financial information obtained elsewhere.

“It’s a very important personal financial document, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle,” said Mr. Fort, a CPA and director of investigations at Kostelanetz & Fink in Washington. “What you find in the statement should be followed by interviews and subpoenas.”

Yet the Times’ investigation into Mr. Trump’s returns uncovered a number of misleading claims and lies he spread about his wealth and business acumen.

Many claims of Mr. Trump’s generous philanthropy have collapsed when reviewing his tax returns, which has raised questions about the amount of some donations and the overall nature of his tax-deductible donations. For example, $ 119.3 million of the roughly $ 130 million in charitable deductions he had claimed since 2005 turned out to be the estimated value of pledges not to develop real estate, sometimes after the failure of a planned project.

At least two of these land-based charitable deductions, one linked to a golf course in Los Angeles and the other to an estate in Westchester called Seven Springs, are known to be part of Ms James’ civil investigation. , which examines whether valuations support tax write-offs have been inflated.

More generally, tax records have shown how the public disclosures he filed as candidate, and then as president, offered a distorted view of his overall finances by reporting glowing numbers for his golf courses, hotels and the like. companies based on the gross revenues they collected each year. . The actual bottom line, after losses and expenses, was much bleaker: In 2018, while Mr. Trump’s public filings showed income of $ 434.9 million, his tax returns reported a total of 47, $ 4 million in losses.

And such dire numbers were not an anomaly. Mr. Trump’s numerous golf courses, a vital component of his business empire, recorded losses of $ 315.6 million between 2000 and 2018, while revenues from licensing hotels in his name and resorts had all but dried up by the time he entered the White House. In addition, Mr. Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, much of which he has personally guaranteed, which will mature in the next few years.

The Times investigation also found he was facing a potentially devastating IRS audit focused on the huge refund he claimed in 2010, which covered all federal income taxes he paid. from 2005 to 2008, plus interest. Mr Trump has repeatedly cited the ongoing audit as the reason he couldn’t release his tax returns, having initially said he would, even though nothing in the audit process did. prevented from doing so.

If an IRS ruling were ultimately to go against him, Mr. Trump could be forced to repay more than $ 100 million, including interest and possible penalties, in addition to some $ 21.2 million in local and state tax refunds based on the numbers. in its federal documents.

Russ buettner and Susanne Craig contribution to reports.

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Democrats to unveil up to $ 3,600 in child tax credit under stimulus bill

WASHINGTON – Top House Democrats prepare to unveil legislation that would send millions of Americans up to $ 3,600 per child, as lawmakers aim to change the tax code to target child poverty rates under the President Biden’s massive $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package.

The proposal would expand the child tax credit to provide $ 3,600 per child under age 6 and $ 3,000 per child up to age 17 over the course of a year, phasing out payments for Americans who earn more than 75,000 $ and couples who earn more than $ 150,000. The 22-page draft provision, reported earlier by the Washington Post and obtained by The New York Times, is expected to be formally presented on Monday as lawmakers rush to fill in the contours of Mr Biden’s stimulus package.

“The pandemic is pushing families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the champions of this provision. “This money is going to make the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most. “

The credits would be divided into monthly Internal Revenue Service payments starting in July, based on a person’s or family’s income in 2020. Although the proposed credit is only for one year, some Democrats said that they would fight to make it permanent, an action sweep that could reshape America’s child poverty reduction efforts.

The one-year credit looks likely to garner enough support to be included in the stimulus package, but it will also have to clear a series of tough parliamentary hurdles due to the procedural maneuvers Democrats are using to bolster the stimulus package, potentially republican-free. support.

As Democratic House leaders aim to get stimulus legislation approved in the House by the end of the month, Congress last week decided to speed up Mr Biden’s stimulus package even as the details legislation is still under development. Backed by Democratic support in both chambers and a lackluster January jobs report, Mr Biden warned he plans to move forward with his plan whether Republicans back him or not.

Republicans, who accused Mr. Biden of abandoning bipartisan promises and expressed concerns about the country’s debt, have largely hesitated at his plan because of its size and scope after Congress approved billions of dollars in economic aid in 2020.

But the child tax credit could provide an opportunity for bipartisan support, as Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney introduced a similar measure that would send payments of up to $ 1,250 per month to families with children. Mr. Romney’s proposal, intended to encourage Americans to have more children while reducing child poverty rates, would distribute payments through the Social Security Administration and offset the costs by eliminating other spending on child protection. government.

“If you’re President Biden and you’re serious about bipartisanship – working with the people on the other side, bringing people together in unity, he has a chance to do it,” the Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on CNN’s “State of the Union”. (Mr Toomey said he would not support Mr Biden’s proposal due to the price.)

Janet L. Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury, warned on Sunday that the US labor market was stagnant and found itself in a “deep hole” that could take years to emerge if lawmakers do not swiftly pass the plan. relaunch.

Ms Yellen refuted fears that big spending would lead to inflation and said the economy would face the kind of long and slow recovery it experienced after the 2008 financial crisis if lawmakers did too little.

“The greatest risk is that we leave workers and communities scarred by the pandemic and the economic consequences that flow from it,” Ms. Yellen told CNN. “We have to make sure it doesn’t harm their lives.”

Ms Yellen said adopting the stimulus package could allow the economy to reach full employment by next year. Failure to do so, she said, could leave unemployment high for years to come.

The provision expanding the child tax credit is part of legislative proposals to address inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and help families weather the country’s faltering economy. Researchers at Columbia University have found that Mr Biden’s comprehensive stimulus proposal could cut child poverty in half by 2021 due to the expansion of children’s credit, as well as other changes in children’s credit. tax and expansion of unemployment benefits and food aid.

“Now is the time to make dramatic cuts to child poverty that could improve the lives and futures of millions of children,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and chair of the Credit Committee on Sunday. bedroom. She said she would lobby to make the credit permanent.

Chris Cameron and Jim tankersley contribution to reports.

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Democrats are pushing to reverse some business tax cuts in stimulus talks.

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are urging President Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, to repeal tax relief as part of the economic aid package that Democrats hope to send to President Biden in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers, led by Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, say the move – and a related change that would effectively raise taxes for some businesses in the years to come – could reduce federal borrowing for the aid program as up to $ 250 billion.

Mr Biden came up with a $ 1.9 trillion plan, all funded by borrowed money. Many Republicans objected to the price tag, saying it is more than the economy needs and will further inflate the federal deficit.

On Monday, 10 Senate Republicans fought back with a $ 618 billion plan. But these Republican lawmakers will almost certainly reject any increase in business taxes as a way to close the gap between the two sides in borrowing for the bill.

The tax cuts in question – which focus on so-called net operating losses – were included in a bailout bill passed by Congress in March 2020, as the pandemic spread and the country was in the middle of a recession. These were temporary cancellations of a limitation imposed on business deductions by the Republicans’ 2017 tax law signed by former President Donald J. Trump. Indeed, the March provision allowed some companies that have suffered heavy losses in recent years to reduce their federal tax bills, applying those losses to offset the income taxes of the previous five years.

Supporters of these tax breaks – including Congressional Republicans and business groups – said the move would provide an injection of cash to struggling businesses amid the pandemic.

In their letter to Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer, Democratic lawmakers say the cuts “benefit a select set of high-income taxpayers, including hedge funds, real estate developers and possibly the Trump family.”

“The best place to start for Republicans asking for more narrowly targeted relief is to eliminate the $ 250 billion windfall for hedge fund managers and real estate speculators that they had previously built into the CARES Act,” said Mr. Doggett and Mr. Whitehouse said in a written statement. “With 120 Democratic lawmakers, we urge negotiators to end the windfall for the least needy and reinvest in the most needy.”

Lawmakers are proposing to repeal the change, which applied to losses incurred from 2018 to 2020, and make the Trump-era limitation on the carry-back of net operating losses permanent.

Together, these changes would increase federal revenues by about $ 250 billion over a decade, lawmakers said, citing estimates from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Some of that money would come from the government “clawing back” tax refunds sent to businesses that have already filed their tax returns and used the extended loss provision.

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Hunter Biden reveals he is under federal tax investigation

Tax matters caught the attention of FBI agents after the launch of the money laundering investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial affairs in late 2018, under the direction of then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to several people close to the investigation.

What prompted the FBI’s investigation remains unclear. Former law enforcement officials have said that while the money laundering aspect of the investigation appears to have died down, Internal Revenue Service investigators have continued to examine Mr. Biden.

In early 2017, Mr. Biden and his first wife, Kathleen, who were then separated, owed $ 313,970 in taxes and had “maximum credit card debt” and “were doubling the mortgages on the two properties that were they owned, ”according to a filing she submitted in their divorce.

The following year, the IRS issued a lien against the then-divorced pair for $ 112,805 in unpaid 2015 taxes. These taxes appear to have been paid in March of that year, when the lien was released. .

Separately, the government of the city of Washington, DC, where Mr. Biden had lived, issued liens against him in July totaling nearly $ 454,000 for unpaid taxes from 2017 and 2018. Those liens were released less than $ 454,000. ‘a week later, according to tax records.

Mr. Biden has long been an intense target of Mr. Trump and his allies in the range of business ventures he conducted around the world while his father was vice president and beyond.

He was paid $ 50,000 a month or more to serve on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company owned by an oligarch widely regarded as corrupt, advised a wealthy Romanian business executive facing corruption charges and invested in a private equity fund linked to the Chinese government.

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In prison for tax evasion, he committed more tax evasion, according to the United States

A Queens man who was serving time in federal prison for tax preparation fraud used a smuggled smartphone to file tax returns for clients, diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds to accounts that ‘he was in control, authorities said.

Abdel Soliman, 54, was arrested Monday on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. According to an affidavit submitted as part of an arrest warrant application, he took more than $ 470,000 from clients in 2018 and 2019 while incarcerated in a minimum security camp at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, in Pennsylvania.

“Everything is ridiculous – it’s not true,” said Soliman, who is free with a $ 600,000 bond, in an interview this week.

Mr Soliman said he had never owned a cell phone in prison, adding that the arrest affidavit was based on the testimony of another inmate who had requested early release from house arrest.

“You wouldn’t believe how many phones are in federal prison camps,” Soliman said. “They are everywhere.”

Messages left with Louis M. Freeman, Mr. Soliman’s lawyer, were not returned.

The affidavit, prepared by a special agent in the IRS’s Criminal Investigations Division, states that while he was serving a 41-month sentence for a $ 2.9 million tax preparation fraud scheme, Mr. Soliman used a contraband cell phone to commit the same crime. Mr Soliman filled out tax forms for clients on his phone and kept some of their tax returns while sending clients documents showing lower reporting amounts, the affidavit states.

Some clients were unaware that the IRS had issued refunds on their behalf, the document says, and at least one client said he was unaware that Mr. Soliman was in jail at the time. The IRS interviewed 11 people it said had been defrauded by Mr. Soliman and found that he had taken more than $ 36,000 from them.

In other cases, according to the document, the IRS found that Mr. Soliman had collected “fees” of about $ 900 that he charged against his clients’ tax refunds without notifying them. The money was diverted to an account Mr Soliman was controlling with the help of unidentified “associates”, the document said.

The IRS investigator also accused Mr. Soliman, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Egypt, of laundering the money he had obtained from his clients, by sending $ 150,000 to an account in Egypt and over $ 40,000 on an account in Europe.

According to the affidavit, the Federal Bureau of Prisons provided the IRS with photos of an iPhone 6S that had been confiscated from Mr. Soliman on May 9 and had his contact details in his settings. Authorities were unable to further research the device because its data “was remotely erased during the inventory process,” the document said.

Federal records show Mr. Soliman was released from prison on October 9 and the affidavit says he was to remain on probation until 2023.

In 2003, he pleaded guilty to being charged with attempting to smuggle $ 659,000 out of the country at Kennedy International Airport, and was sentenced to 30 months.

The use of cell phones by inmates, including in the commission of crimes, is a growing concern, although the devices have been banned in federal prisons since 2010. The New York Times reported earlier this year that inmates of An Alabama state prison used cell phones to extort money from the families of fellow inmates.

In a statement, Justin Long, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said the agency “continues to tackle the issue of smuggling into our facilities, including smuggled cell phones.”

Mr. Long said he was unable to speak about Mr. Soliman’s case, or say how common it was for inmates to use cell phones to commit crimes. Federal prisons, he said, use metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices to find such devices.

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Trump’s tax write-offs trapped in 2 New York fraud investigations

Two separate New York State fraud investigations against President Trump and his companies, one criminal and the other civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, including some appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people. with knowledge of the subject.

The investigations – a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil investigation by State Attorney General Letitia James – are being conducted independently. But both offices have issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks over expense cases, people said.

The subpoenas were the final stages of two investigations by the Trump organization and underline the legal challenges facing the president when he steps down in January. There is no indication that his daughter is at the center of any of the investigations, which the Trump organization has ridiculed as being politically motivated.

The development follows a recent New York Times review of more than two decades of Mr. Trump’s tax records, which found that he had paid little or no federal income tax in most years, in largely because of its chronic business losses.

Among the revelations, Mr. Trump reduced his taxable income by deducting approximately $ 26 million in fees from unidentified consultants as a business expense on numerous projects between 2010 and 2018.

Some of those fees appear to have been paid to Ms. Trump, the Times found. In a 2017 disclosure she filed while joining the White House as a presidential adviser, she said she received payments from a consulting company she co-owned, totaling $ 747,622, which exactly matched the fees. consultation claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The subpoenas focused on fees paid to the company for its disclosures, TTT Consulting LLC, and made up only a portion of the $ 26 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company’s name appears to be a reference to Ms. Trump and other members of her family.

Ms Trump was a senior executive at the Trump companies that made the payments, meaning she appears to have been treated as a consultant while also working for the company. While businesses can deduct professional fees, the Internal Revenue Service requires consulting agreements to be market-based and reasonable, as well as “ordinary and necessary” to the management of a business.

Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump organization, said in a statement that “this is just the latest fishing expedition in a continuing attempt to harass the company.”

“Everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of lawyers and tax experts,” he added. “All applicable taxes have been paid and no party received an undue advantage.”

The IRS has sometimes rejected attempts to write off consulting fees if they were aimed at avoiding taxes and did not reflect an independent business relationship. It is not known if the IRS has ever questioned the Trump organization about this practice. The tax benefit for Mr. Trump of deducting fees from his companies’ federal returns would also be reflected in his New York returns, which could be of interest to the state.

The offices of the district attorney and attorney general declined to comment. An attorney for Ms. Trump has not returned calls regarding the investigations.

Few details have been publicly disclosed about the district attorney’s investigation, the only known active criminal case involving Mr. Trump. Mr Vance’s office opened the investigation more than two years ago, initially focusing on the role of the Trump organization in silencing the money paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actress who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

The investigation has been on hold since last fall, after the president filed a lawsuit to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other financial records.

The legal fight is before the United States Supreme Court for the second time, with a ruling expected soon. Prosecutors have suggested in court documents that their investigation has extended well beyond silence over money and focuses on a number of potential financial crimes, including insurance and banking fraud, evasion tax and grand theft.

Mr Trump said the investigation was part of “the greatest witch hunt in history”. Mr. Vance and Ms. James are both Democrats.

Ms James’ civil investigation focuses on the business practices of the Trump organization, although she may make a criminal referral or seek permission from the administration of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to lay charges on her own .

His investigation began last year in March, after Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, told Congress that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in the financial statements to guarantee bank loans and sub-loans. estimated elsewhere to reduce his tax bill. In August, the attorney general’s office asked a judge to force President Eric Trump’s son to testify in the investigation, and he did so last month. Eric Trump is executive vice president of the Trump organization, which manages its day-to-day operations.

Investigators in Ms James’ office examined a wide range of transactions. One of them is a 2010 financial restructuring of the Trump Hotel & Tower in Chicago, when the Fortress Credit Corporation forgave more than $ 100 million in debt. The attorney general’s office said in court documents filed in August that the Trump organization had thwarted efforts to determine how this money was reflected in its tax returns and whether it was being reported as income, as required by law. in most of the cases. The Times’ analysis of Mr. Trump’s financial records found that he had avoided federal tax on almost all of the canceled debt.

The Attorney General’s office is also examining whether the Trump organization used inflated valuations when it received significant tax breaks for pledging to hold land where its development efforts failed, including in its Seven Springs estate. in Westchester County, New York.

“The outcome of the election will have no impact on our investigations,” Ms. James said in a television interview this month, adding, “No one is above the law. We will simply follow the facts and evidence, wherever they take us.

Mr Trump has frequently assaulted Ms James, the latest in a series of New York attorneys general he has clashed with. Ms James presided over the final stages of an investigation that led to the shutdown of her scandal-tainted charitable foundation. She is also seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, a key ally of the president.

“They pursue everything, always in search of a crime”, tweeted last year, although his own lawsuit is legendary. His campaign and his allies have filed more than two dozen lawsuits in recent days aimed at overturning the election results he lost this month.

The review of the honoraria apparently paid to his eldest daughter risks eliciting even more vitriol from the outgoing president. And that raises the question of whether the payments were a tax-deductible way for him to compensate his children, or to avoid taxes on gifts he might incur by transferring wealth to them, which the father of Mr. Trump had done so through legally questionable ploys uncovered by The Times in 2018.

This is not the first investigation by the Attorney General’s office to involve Mr. Trump’s children. As part of the settlement that led to the closure of the president’s charitable foundation, Trump and her brothers, who were board members, were to receive “training on the duties of officers and directors of charities. so that they cannot allow illegal activity. they supervised the Trump Foundation again, ”under the terms of the agreement.

In September, after a state judge dismissed arguments by Trump’s lawyers to further delay Eric Trump’s testimony, the president’s son called the investigation a “continuing political vendetta.”

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40-year-old California tax revolt survives counterattack

40-year-old California tax revolt survives counterattack Voters rejected an offer to amend Proposition 13, a landmark 1978 measure, to remove a tax shield from commercial properties.

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The tax fight that haunts California

Hello.

Today, we dig a little deeper, one last time, Proposition 15, the complicated, seemingly banal, but ultimately very significant measure on Californian ballots.

This would change the way commercial properties are taxed, partially nullifying Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 measure that capped property tax increases and has been a defining force in California tax policy ever since.

[Refresh your memory on the highest-profile ballot initiatives this year.]

My colleague Conor Dougherty wrote learn more about the longstanding fight – its roots and why it matters. I asked him what might be to come.

Here is what he said:

You explain this in the story, but can you define what is at stake in Proposition 15? Why is this so bad for Californians?

Well, for starters, if passed it would be one of the biggest tax hikes in state history, so that alone is a big deal. But there is also a lot of symbolism here.

Proposition 13 has defined California land and politics since 1978 and has been considered untouchable ever since. Even a very small step to back it up would be a big problem, and it’s a big step. So if he succeeds, it will change our perception of what is considered politically possible.

Proposition 13 is a product of California only. But are there ways the fight over it has influenced national debate or federal policy? And how does Proposition 15 fit into the national economic landscape?

Proposition 13 is widely credited with triggering a nationwide tax revolt, and there are other places, like Florida, that have laws that limit how quickly property values ​​can be reassessed. So it’s not entirely unique.

What I think is important here is that Proposition 15 seems to suggest a new attitude towards taxes and a willingness to tax big business. If you believe the adage that California is a look into the nation’s future – and that certainly applied to the Prop. 13 in 1978 – so, as I said, there is a symbolism here of the original tax revolt that could be reversed.

Let’s say that proposition 15 passes. To what extent would developers see this as an opportunity to ask voters to change the look of residential property? Or is there a feeling that they would just take the win?

I don’t think anyone will approach the residences for some time, if ever. Proposition 13 is still incredibly popular.

[Read the full story here.]

Now let’s say Proposition 15 fails. What would happen then? Would the “Yes” campaign regroup and come back in two or four years? Are there other ways for policy makers to try to generate this money? (Especially, the other Proposition 13 that was on the ballot earlier this year failed, so is a big measure of obligation off the table for a while?)

Over the past year, Californians appear to have become less responsive to tax increases. Will this affect the Prop. 15? Hard to say.

It will be hugely expensive to come back to this, so I guess it will be some time before this is tried again, but that depends on how close the Proposition 15 race is.

What will you be watching more closely when the results arrive? What questions do you hope to answer?

I’ll watch the margins. If he barely succeeds or barely fails, I think that will mean that one side or the other will continue to pick on in the next election – remember that even if he does, the “No” side can. try to go back. a more favorable election. But if it’s a definite failure or a definite victory, it gives either outcome a better chance to stick.

[See The Times’s full voter guide for Californians, with information about how, when and where to cast your ballot. | Leer en español.]

Learn more about the election:

  • “America faces a serious challenge for its leadership in the ‘rules-based’ world.” Former governor Jerry Brown speaks on the Colusa County election. [The New York Review]

  • Here’s how to vote if you lost your home in a forest fire. [CapRadio]

  • The state is try to help those who need an interpreter to vote – but it’s difficult this year. [CalMatters]

If you missed it, a report found more work needed to be done to get first-time or hardest voters to vote. [The New York Times]

  • Should I mail my ballot? What happens if a party does not accept the election results? And other questions on the election that anxious people can have. [The New York Times]

  • Once you are done stressing yourself out more, take this quiz to see if you can. “Trump refrigerator” from a “Biden refrigerator”. (It’s oddly fascinating and surprisingly difficult.) [The New York Times]


  • Evacuees who fled the Silverado fire have returned home, surrounded by scorched earth but no destruction: “I don’t know how this row of houses is still standing.” [The Orange County Register]

  • How does your state produce electricity? Find out how the California mix has evolved over the past two decades. [The New York Times]

  • Los Angeles public schools are unlikely to reopen for in-person instruction until at least January, said board members. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • As other Bay Area counties have made progress in reopening the state’s coronavirus, Solano County is the only one at risk of retreating. Officials accuse several “inappropriate large gatherings.” [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Learn about California’s tiered reopening plan. [The New York Times]

  • The state treasurer pressured employees to show up to the office during the pandemic, asking them to show ‘courage and determination’ emails and interviews show – although employees said they didn’t need to be there and in-person work quotas seemed arbitrary . [Politico]

  • Justin Turner, the Dodgers third baseman who was pulled from the team’s World Series winning game Tuesday night because he tested positive for coronavirus, refused to stay off the field during the celebrations, Major League Baseball said. [The New York Times]

Learn more about the celebration of Ms. Chiang’s 99th birthday. [The New York Times]

  • The Times wants to hear from essential workers in the food industry: How has your job changed during the pandemic? What sacrifices did you have to make? What does it mean to you to be a critical worker? Please let us know through the link. [The New York Times]

  • Noah Centineo launched a voting pop-up for influencers in Los Angeles. (If you understood this phrase, there’s a good chance you’re younger than a millennial.) He tours, during which he is sometimes barefoot and always masked. [The New York Times]


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

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Trump’s philanthropy: big tax write-offs and claims that don’t always add up

In President Trump’s speech, he is a committed philanthropist with close ties to many charities. “If you don’t give back you will never be fulfilled in life,” he wrote in “Trump 101: The Way to Success”, published at the height of his fame “Apprentice.”

And according to his tax record, he’s made at least $ 130 million since 2005, his second year as a reality TV star.

But long-hidden tax records obtained by The New York Times show that Mr. Trump didn’t have to dig through his wallet for most of those donations. The vast majority of its charitable tax deductions, worth $ 119.3 million, came from simply agreeing not to develop land – in several cases, after setting aside development plans.

Three of the agreements involved what are known as conservation easements – a maneuver, popular among wealthy Americans, which generally allows a landowner to retain title to a property and receive a tax deduction equal to his estimated value. In the fourth land deal, Mr. Trump donated property for a state park.

The New York attorney general is investigating whether the valuations of two of Mr. Trump’s easement donations were not properly inflated for greater tax breaks, according to court documents.

Mr Trump’s statements about philanthropic largesse have been widely discredited by reports, including in the Washington Post, that he has exaggerated, or simply never made, a range of claimed contributions. His own charitable foundation closed in 2018 amid self-activism allegations benefiting Mr. Trump, his businesses and his campaign.

But tax data the Times examined lends new authority and much greater precision to these results. The records, encompassing his reported philanthropic activity up to 2017, not only reveal his exact dimensions; they show that much of his charity came when he was under duress – facing damage to his reputation or heavy tax burdens over years of high income.

Of the $ 7.5 million in business and personal cash contributions reported to the Internal Revenue Service since 2005, more than 40% – $ 3.2 million – came from 2015, when Mr. Trump has come under scrutiny after announcing his candidacy for the White House. In 2017, his first year in office, he declared $ 1.9 million in cash donations. In 2014, however, he contributed $ 81,499.

And his first two land easement donations were made during what tax records show as a period of significant taxable income – 2005 and 2006, prime time for his reality TV fame.

The biography of the President Trump Organization says he is “involved in many civic and charitable organizations.” When he announced his campaign in 2015, he said he had donated over $ 102 million to charity in the previous five years.

While it is possible that he chose not to report some of his donations, his tax records for 2010 to 2014 reflect much less than he claimed – $ 735,238 in cash and $ 26.8 million. in land easements and other non-monetary gifts. Six months after the start of the campaign, in December 2015, another easement, valued at $ 21.1 million, was completed.

Responding to questions from The Times, Amanda Miller, spokesperson for the Trump organization, said, “President Trump gives money privately. It is impossible to know how much he has given over the years.

The tax information analyzed by The Times includes annual totals for corporate and individual donations, but only lists some corporate donations.

The largest cash donation he made for his businesses, made to his own foundation, was the $ 400,000 he received in 2011 for being roasted on Comedy Central. In 2014, his Virginia vineyard donated a glass sculpture valued at $ 73,600 to a small historical society in Pennsylvania. And in 2016, another of his companies donated $ 30,000 to the American Hotel & Lodging Education Foundation.

Even without the details of Mr. Trump’s individual donations, The Times was able to identify public philanthropic promises that appear to have been exaggerated or never materialized. In each case, the size of his commitment exceeded what he had told the IRS he had given in a given year.

In 2009, for example, he agreed to lease his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York, to Libyan dictator Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi, who hoped to stay in a tent on the ground during a meeting of Libya. the United Nations General Assembly. .

Although the plans fell apart when local residents objected, Col. Gaddafi made a payment of $ 150,000, which Mr. Trump told CNN in 2011 he donated to charity. However, his 2009 tax returns only reported $ 22,796 in business and personal cash gifts.

In 2015, Mr. Trump pledged to donate the profits from his book “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again.”

“The profits of my book? I give them to a lot of different people, including vets, ”he told a press conference.

Tax records show that Waxman Leavell Literary Agency, which represented Mr. Trump’s book, made two payments to him in 2015 and 2016, totaling around $ 4.5 million. During those years, Mr. Trump said he gave a total of $ 1.3 million in cash to charity.

Many wealthy people create their own foundations, often to gain greater control over their philanthropy. While Mr. Trump’s foundation, established in 1988, donated millions to charity before closing in 2018, most of it was other people’s money. Mr. Trump himself donated $ 5.4 million to the foundation, the last contribution being in 2008, according to the organization’s tax returns.

The majority of the president’s philanthropy, however, has consisted of his four land deals with conservation groups or the government.

His first easement donation, which resulted in a tax deduction of $ 39.1 million in 2005, was for a piece of land at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ.

The following year, he donated 436 acres of land for a state park in New York City’s Westchester and Putnam counties after development plans met strict regulatory restrictions. While the precise value of the easement is unclear, he cited non-cash charitable contributions of $ 34 million that year.

Mr. Trump had bought the property in the 1990s for $ 2 million, according to numerous published reports. Today it is overgrown and has few facilities or visitors.

The two most recent easement deductions are being reviewed by New York Attorney General Letitia James – as part of a larger investigation to determine whether the Trump organization has inflated asset values ​​to secure loans and debts. fiscal advantages.

In 2014, after scrapping plans to develop an 11.5-acre property used as a driving range at his Los Angeles golf club, Trump received a $ 25.1 million tax deduction for a easement with a land conservator. Few details of the deal’s investigation have emerged.

Court documents further shed light on the other easement under investigation.

In late 2015, Mr. Trump secured $ 21.1 million in tax relief for 158.6 acres of land in the Seven Springs area, after years of unsuccessful attempts to build a golf course there.

The attorney general’s file indicates that after Mr. Trump scrapped plans to develop Seven Springs, he asked Sheri Dillon, a tax lawyer at Morgan Lewis who had advised him in the past, to have the land assessed.

Ms Dillon told Cushman & Wakefield, the firm that did the appraisal, that “the client exploded against her” and she leaned on the appraisers to take action that would increase the value, the court record says .

Several weeks ago, after months of delays, Mr. Trump’s son Eric filed a statement in the case.

Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. “President Trump was not involved in the mentioned valuations, which were carried out by the country’s most respected valuation and brokerage firm,” said Ms. Miller, the spokesperson for the Trump organization.