News outlet ProPublica reported Wednesday, October 16 that they have uncovered two major discrepancies in President Trump’s tax and loan documents for two of his New York City properties: 40 Wall Street and Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Real estate experts claim that there can be legitimate reasons for figures to differ between tax and loan documents. But they have also stated that they didn't see obvious explanations for some of these discrepancies in the reporting of occupancy figures, expenses and profits with Trump's properties.
ProPublica obtained property tax documents for a handful of Trump's New York properties that were public because Trump appealed the tax bills. The news outlet then compared the tax documents with loan records that became public when Trump's lender sold the debt on the properties. It was then that they noticed the discrepancies between the tax records and the loan records for two of the properties, both of which had been refinanced while Trump was running for president.
With 40 Wall Street, Trump's representatives had reported to his lender, Ladder Capital, that the building was 58.9 percent occupied on Dec. 31, 2012, but then drastically increased that number to 95 percent occupancy a few years later. However, Trump's representatives reported to New York City property tax officials that the building was 81 percent leased as of Jan. 5, 2013.
ProPublica pointed out that the fib about rising occupancy—coupled with an explanation from Trump's representatives that rising income would follow the increase in occupancy—would have been very useful in Trump securing a loan refinancing. Ladder Capital's underwriters predicted that the building's profits would more than double after 2015, just a few years after the refinancing. They also found that the reporting of certain costs concerning 40 Wall Street, such as insurance fees, was questionable.
In the case of Trump International Hotel and Tower, Trump's company told tax officials that it made about $822,000 in 2017 from renting space in the building to other businesses. However, Trump's business reported to loan officials that the building made $1.67 million from this rental space. Trump also appeared to not report income from leasing space for television antennas on tax documents but did report such income on loan documents, according to ProPublica.
It is no secret that in the past, Trump has manipulated the tax system to his benefit by inflating the value of his assets for insurance purposes and deflating the value for tax purposes.
The U.S. has been suspicious of his tax history since he was on the campaign trail in 2016. In fact, Trump’s own former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has outed the president’s shady habit of abusing the tax system and stubbornly attempting to conceal it. Amidst his presidency, Trump has found himself in the thick of multiple lawsuits in an effort to prevent Democrats and other prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns and financial records.
As of Wednesday, ProPublica said that the Trump Organization has yet to comment on the news organization's questions.