Trump’s Taxes: Red Flags, Big Losses and a Windfall From His Father | Big Indy News
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Trump’s Taxes: Red Flags, Big Losses and a Windfall From His Father



At first glance, the income-tax data released this week by a House committee seems to show a turnaround in 2018 for former President Donald J. Trump. After a decade in which he declared no taxable income, his 2018 return reported taxable income of more than $24 million. He paid nearly a million dollars in federal income taxes.

In fact, his year in the black appears to have resulted largely from the final windfall of the vast inheritance that financed much of his business career — more than $14 million in gains from the sale of his father’s 1970s investment in the Brooklyn housing development of Starrett City.

But precedent soon reasserted itself. Because of business losses, he paid no income taxes in 2020, his last year in the White House.

That year, after obtaining more than two decades of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, The New York Times traced the boom-and-bust arcs that had marked his financial history: dubious tax avoidance, huge losses and a life buttressed by an inherited fortune. The newly released tax information, from 2015 to 2020, shows how that pattern extended through his years in Washington.

The new material, obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee after a yearslong legal battle, raised a multitude of questions about the methods Mr. Trump had employed while president to lower his income taxes, and about failures by the Internal Revenue Service to fully investigate those deductions.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, a bipartisan panel that is known for reviewing the impact of tax legislation and has a staff with deep tax law expertise, reviewed the Trump returns and found dozens of red flags that it believed required further investigation.

One involved transactions with his children. According to the tax data, Mr. Trump annually received tens of thousands of dollars in interest income from three of his grown children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — money that stemmed from what his returns described as personal loans to them. The committee questioned whether the loans actually “were disguised gifts” to evade gift taxes and allow the children to write off interest payments to their father.

The congressional report said the I.R.S. explored whether Mr. Trump correctly deducted the $21 million he had paid to settle a series of fraud claims against the now-defunct Trump University. It was not clear, the report said, whether Mr. Trump had received any insurance proceeds that offset some portion of the settlement. The outcome of that review was not known.

One point of potential trouble for Mr. Trump emerged from the report. The I.R.S. is considering disallowing the $21 million write-off Mr. Trump claimed in 2015 for agreeing not to develop much of the land on a sprawling estate in Westchester County, N.Y., known as Seven Springs. After not examining the transaction for a period of time, the agency is exploring whether the value Mr. Trump claimed was based on a qualified appraisal.

The committee requested that the I.R.S. also verify charitable contributions Mr. Trump reported making with cash, checks or credit cards.

Besides Mr. Trump’s returns, the Ways and Means committee obtained roughly 1,100 electronic files containing working papers, memos and other internal documents showing how the I.R.S. had handled them. The records, according to the report, depict an agency that seemed reluctant to aggressively examine a wealthy taxpayer who was difficult to deal with and had complex returns.

After The Times published its investigation revealing years of Mr. Trump’s tax data, I.R.S. officials met to decide how to respond to the numerous revelations, including questionable deductions, tax credits and cancellation of debt. Yet the agency set a high bar for what to examine.

For instance, The Times reported that Mr. Trump had a pattern of writing off payments to unidentified consultants, totaling $26 million over nine years across all of his projects, and that at least some of that money went to his daughter Ivanka, even though she was earning a salary as an executive at his company. It raised the question of whether the payments reflected actual consulting work or were simply a way to claim an unwarranted tax deduction.

The I.R.S. seemed to find the payments worthy of scrutiny, but worried that, because they were spread out over many years and were made by numerous corporate entities, “the resources needed to examine would far outweigh any potential benefits,” the report said. In a bit of circular reasoning, the agency ultimately determined that the fees were too “difficult to examine unless they were found to be fraudulent payments.”

Similarly, agency officials initially flagged a detail in The Times’s reporting about how Mr. Trump had used $9.7 million in business investment credits, in part related to the renovation of the Old Post Office hotel in Washington, to wipe out his tax obligations for 2016 and 2017. But to pursue it further, they concluded, “the credits would need to be material,” and the committee found that the I.R.S. was ultimately “not interested.” Mr. Trump is currently seeking a refund of nearly all of the $641,181 in income taxes he paid for 2015 using the same credit for historic rehabilitation, the report noted. He wants a refund for all but $750, the same total income tax he paid in the both of the following two years.

The internal records indicated that, in determining which issues to pursue, I.R.S. officials discussed “the history of difficult negotiations between Mr. Trump’s counsel and I.R.S. personnel” and fretted that opening new examinations of past tax returns could damage the “good relationship” they had recently established with Mr. Trump’s representatives.

Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said the committee’s findings “just goes to show you how far behind the ball the I.R.S. is.”

“It’s unfortunate that they just don’t have the resources or the expertise to keep up with a sophisticated taxpayer like Trump,” he said, “let alone a sophisticated taxpayer like Trump who specializes in obstruction and delay.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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