特朗普家族“逃税门”(二):父亲如何为他铺路_OK阅读网
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特朗普家族“逃税门”(二):父亲如何为他铺路
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father

来源:纽约时报    2018-10-09 08:01



        Read Part 1 
        ‘ONE-MAN BUILDING SHOW’ 
         Early experience, cultivated connections and a wave of federal housing subsidies helped Fred Trump lay the foundation of his son’s wealth.
        Before he turned 20, Fred Trump had already built and sold his first home. At age 35, he was building hundreds of houses a year in Brooklyn and Queens. By 45, he was building some of the biggest apartment complexes in the country.
        Aside from an astonishing work ethic — “Sleeping is a waste of time,” he liked to say — the growth reflected his shrewd application of mass-production techniques. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle called him “the Henry Ford of the home-building industry.” He would erect scaffolding a city block long so his masons, sometimes working a second shift under floodlights, could throw up a dozen rowhouses in a week. They sold for about $115,000 in today’s dollars.
        By 1940, American Builder magazine was taking notice, devoting a spread to Fred Trump under the headline “Biggest One-Man Building Show.” The article described a swaggering lone-wolf character who paid for everything — wages, supplies, land — from a thick wad of cash he carried at all times, and whose only help was a secretary answering the phone in an office barely bigger than a parking space. “He is his own purchasing agent, cashier, paymaster, building superintendent, construction engineer and sales director,” the article said.
        It wasn’t that simple. Fred Trump had also spent years ingratiating himself with Brooklyn’s Democratic machine, giving money, doing favors and making the sort of friends (like Abraham D. Beame, a future mayor) who could make life easier for a developer. He had also assembled a phalanx of plugged-in real estate lawyers, property appraisers and tax accountants who protected his interests.
        All these traits — deep experience, nimbleness, connections, a relentless focus on the efficient construction of homes for the middle class — positioned him perfectly to ride a growing wave of federal spending on housing. The wave took shape with the New Deal, grew during the World War II rush to build military housing and crested with the postwar imperative to provide homes for returning G.I.s. Fred Trump would become a millionaire many times over by making himself one of the nation’s largest recipients of cheap government-backed building loans, according to Gwenda Blair’s book “The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President.”
        Those same loans became the wellspring of Donald Trump’s wealth. In the late 1940s, Fred Trump obtained roughly $26 million in federal loans to build two of his largest developments, Beach Haven Apartments, near Coney Island, Brooklyn, and Shore Haven Apartments, a few miles away. Then he set about making his children his landlords.
        As ground lease payments fattened his children’s trusts, Fred Trump embarked on a far bigger transfer of wealth. Records obtained by The Times reveal how he began to build or buy apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens and then gradually, without public trace, transfer ownership to his children through a web of partnerships and corporations. In all, Fred Trump put up nearly $13 million in cash and mortgage debt to create a mini-empire within his empire — eight buildings with 1,032 apartments — that he would transfer to his children.
        The handover began just before Donald Trump’s 16th birthday. On June 1, 1962, Fred Trump transferred a plot of land in Queens to a newly created corporation. While he would be its president, his children would be its owners, records show. Then he constructed a 52-unit building called Clyde Hall.
        It was easy money for the Trump children. Their father took care of everything. He bought the land, built the apartments and obtained the mortgages. His employees managed the building. The profits, meanwhile, went to his children. By the early 1970s, Fred Trump would execute similar transfers of the other seven buildings.
        For Donald Trump, this meant a rapidly growing new source of income. When he was in high school, his cut of the profits was about $17,000 a year in today’s dollars. His share exceeded $300,000 a year soon after he graduated from college.
        How Fred Trump transferred 1,032 apartments to his children without incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in gift taxes is unclear. A review of property records for the eight buildings turned up no evidence that his children bought them outright. Financial records obtained by The Times reveal only that all of the shares in the partnerships and corporations set up to create the mini-empire shifted at some point from Fred Trump to his children. Yet his tax returns show he paid no gift taxes on seven of the buildings, and only a few thousand dollars on the eighth.
        That building, Sunnyside Towers, a 158-unit property in Queens, illustrates Fred Trump’s catch-me-if-you-can approach with the I.R.S., which had repeatedly cited him for underpaying taxes in the 1950s and 1960s.
        Sunnyside was bought for $2.5 million in 1968 by Midland Associates, a partnership Fred Trump formed with his children for the transaction. In his 1969 tax return, he reported giving each child 15 percent of Midland Associates. Based on the amount of cash put up to buy Sunnyside, the value of this gift should have been $93,750. Instead, he declared a gift of only $6,516.
        Donald Trump went to work for his father after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. His father made him vice president of dozens of companies. This was also the moment Fred Trump telegraphed what had become painfully obvious to his family and employees: He did not consider his eldest son, Fred Trump Jr., a viable heir apparent.
        Fred Jr., seven and a half years older than Donald, had also worked for his father after college. It did not go well, relatives and former employees said in interviews. Fred Trump openly ridiculed him for being too nice, too soft, too lazy, too fond of drink. He frowned on his interests in flying and music, could not fathom why he cared so little for the family business. Donald, witness to his father’s deepening disappointment, fashioned himself Fred Jr.’s opposite — the brash tough guy with a killer instinct. His reward was to inherit his father’s dynastic dreams.
        Fred Trump began taking steps that enriched Donald alone, introducing him to the charms of building with cheap government loans. In 1972, father and son formed a partnership to build a high-rise for the elderly in East Orange, N.J. Thanks to government subsidies, the partnership got a nearly interest-free $7.8 million loan that covered 90 percent of construction costs. Fred Trump paid the rest.
        But his son received most of the financial benefits, records show. On top of profit distributions and consulting fees, Donald Trump was paid to manage the building, though Fred Trump’s employees handled day-to-day management. He also pocketed what tenants paid to rent air-conditioners. By 1975, Donald Trump’s take from the building was today’s equivalent of nearly $305,000 a year.
        Fred Trump also gave his son an extra boost through his investment, in the early 1970s, in the sprawling Starrett City development in Brooklyn, the largest federally subsidized housing project in the nation. The investment, which promised to generate huge tax write-offs, was tailor-made for Fred Trump; he would use Starrett City’s losses to avoid taxes on profits from his empire.
        Fred Trump invested $5 million. A separate partnership established for his children invested $1 million more, showering tax breaks on the Trump children for decades to come. They helped Donald Trump avoid paying any federal income taxes at all in 1978 and 1979. But Fred Trump also deputized him to sell a sliver of his Starrett City shares, a sweetheart deal that generated today’s equivalent of more than $1 million in “consulting fees.”
        The money from consulting and management fees, ground leases, the mini-empire and his salary all combined to make Donald Trump indisputably wealthy years before he sold his first Manhattan apartment. By 1975, when he was 29, he had collected nearly $9 million in today’s dollars from his father, The Times found.
        Wealthy, yes. But a far cry from the image father and son craved for Donald Trump.
        THE SILENT PARTNER
         Fred Trump would play a crucial role in building and carefully maintaining the myth of Donald J. Trump, Self-Made Billionaire.
        “He is tall, lean and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford. He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth ‘more than $200 million.’”
        So began a Nov. 1, 1976, article in The Times, one of the first major profiles of Donald Trump and a cornerstone of decades of mythmaking about his wealth. How could he claim to be worth more than $200 million when, as he divulged years later to casino regulators, his 1976 taxable income was $24,594? Donald Trump simply appropriated his father’s entire empire as his own.
        In the chauffeured Cadillac, Donald Trump took The Times’s reporter on a tour of what he called his “jobs.” He told her about the Manhattan hotel he planned to convert into a Grand Hyatt (his father guaranteed the construction loan), and the Hudson River railroad yards he planned to develop (the rights were purchased by his father’s company). He showed her “our philanthropic endeavor,” the high-rise for the elderly in East Orange (bankrolled by his father), and an apartment complex on Staten Island (owned by his father), and their “flagship,” Trump Village, in Brooklyn (owned by his father), and finally Beach Haven Apartments (owned by his father). Even the Cadillac was leased by his father.
        “So far,” he boasted, “I’ve never made a bad deal.”
        It was a spectacular con, right down to the priceless moment when Mr. Trump confessed that he was “publicity shy.” By claiming his father’s wealth as his own, Donald Trump transformed his place in the world. A brash 30-year-old playboy worth more than $200 million proved irresistible to New York City’s bankers, politicians and journalists.
        Yet for all the spin about cutting his own path in Manhattan, Donald Trump was increasingly dependent on his father. Weeks after The Times’s profile ran, Fred Trump set up still more trusts for his children, seeding each with today’s equivalent of $4.3 million. Even into the early 1980s, when he was already proclaiming himself one of America’s richest men, Donald Trump remained on his father’s payroll, drawing an annual salary of $260,000 in today’s dollars.
        Meanwhile, Fred Trump and his companies also began extending large loans and lines of credit to Donald Trump. Those loans dwarfed what the other Trumps got, the flow so constant at times that it was as if Donald Trump had his own Money Store. Consider 1979, when he borrowed $1.5 million in January, $65,000 in February, $122,000 in March, $150,000 in April, $192,000 in May, $226,000 in June, $2.4 million in July and $40,000 in August, according to records filed with New Jersey casino regulators.
        In theory, the money had to be repaid. In practice, records show, many of the loans were more like gifts. Some were interest-free and had no repayment schedule. Even when loans charged interest, Donald Trump frequently skipped payments.
        This previously unreported flood of loans highlights a clear pattern to Fred Trump’s largess. When Donald Trump began expensive new projects, his father increased his help. In the late 1970s, when Donald Trump was converting the old Commodore Hotel into a Grand Hyatt, his father stepped up with a spigot of loans. Fred Trump did the same with Trump Tower in the early 1980s.
        In the mid-1980s, as Donald Trump made his first forays into Atlantic City, Fred Trump devised a plan that sharply increased the flow of money to his son.
        The plan involved the mini-empire — the eight buildings Fred Trump had transferred to his children. He converted seven of them into cooperatives, and helped his children convert the eighth. That meant inviting tenants to buy their apartments, generating a three-way windfall for Donald Trump and his siblings: from selling units, from renting unsold units and from collecting mortgage payments.
        In 1982, Donald Trump made today’s equivalent of about $380,000 from the eight buildings. As the conversions continued and Fred Trump’s employees sold off more units, his son’s share of profits jumped, records show. By 1987, with the conversions completed, his son was making today’s equivalent of $4.5 million a year off the eight buildings.
        Fred Trump made one other structural change to his empire that produced a big new source of revenue for Donald Trump and his siblings. He made them his bankers.
        The Times could find no evidence that the Trump children had to come up with money of their own to buy their father’s mortgages. Most were purchased from Fred Trump’s banks by trusts and partnerships that he set up and seeded with money.
        Co-op sales, mortgage payments, ground leases — Fred Trump was a master at finding ways to enrich his children in general and Donald Trump in particular. Some ways were like slow-moving creeks. Others were rushing streams. A few were geysers. But as the decades passed they all joined into one mighty river of money. By 1990, The Times found, Fred Trump, the ultimate silent partner, had quietly transferred today’s equivalent of at least $46.2 million to his son.
        Donald Trump took on a mien of invincibility. The stock market crashed in 1987 and the economy cratered. But he doubled down thanks in part to Fred Trump’s banks, which eagerly extended credit to the young Trump princeling. He bought the Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $407.5 million. He bought the Eastern Airlines shuttle fleet in 1989 for $365 million and called it Trump Shuttle. His newest casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, would need at least $1 million a day just to cover its debt.
        The skeptics who questioned the wisdom of this debt-fueled spending spree were drowned out by one magazine cover after another marveling at someone so young taking such breathtaking risks. But whatever Donald Trump was gambling, not for one second was he at risk of losing out on a lifetime of frictionless, effortless wealth. Fred Trump had that bet covered.
        
        
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