New York state tax authorities have launched an investigation of the Trump family fraud schemed detailed in a New York Times report based on an extensive trove of documents and tax returns dating back decades.
The New York Times calculated that Trump himself received over $400 million in wealth from his father that was sheltered through fraudulent schemes while all of the Trump siblings received over $1 billion together.
Assuming the state's investigation corroborates the Times report, how much could the Trumps owe in back taxes?
Quite a lot. By some estimates, they could owe the state as much as $210 million and another $200 million in interest.
Based on the figures provided in the Times article, the Trumps could be on the hook for $210 million in unpaid gift or estate taxes and a similar amount in unpaid interest and penalties, according to Fred Slater, a CPA who has advised real estate professionals for more than 40 years. Janis Cowhey, a trust and estates partner and leader of the modern family group at accounting firm Marcum, agreed that Slater's estimate is sensible.
Slater added that President Trump could be liable for a larger share than his sisters and brother because as trustee he signed the tax returns for the estates. [...]
But it is possible the state would accept less than $400 million in order to avoid a prolonged battle. Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for example, settled a fraud suit with Trump University for $25 million after originally seeking a $40 million payout.
We don't know if any federal authorities are investigating this, but I assume the Trumps would also owe the federal government a substantial amount of money if these estimates are any indication.
If federal authorities are not investigating this, I'd like to know why. I'm sure House Democrats would also like to know why and I expect they will be asking these questions if they regain control over oversight in Congress.
It's highly unlikely that any of the Trumps will be criminally prosecuted for this, but they may be forced to write some very large checks.
For his part, one of Trump's lawyers had threatened to sue the New York Times, but that's never going to happen. This will be settled out of court because it's all true. Actually, it could be worse than the Times report makes it look. They found a lot, but probably not everything.