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Trump’s Tax Returns Aren’t the Only Crucial Records Prosecutors Will Get

At least two of those land-based charitable deductions, one related to a golf course in Los Angeles and the other a Westchester estate called Seven Springs, are known to be part of the civil inquiry by Ms. James, who is examining whether appraisals supporting the tax write-offs were inflated.

More broadly, the tax records showed how the public disclosures he filed as a candidate and then as president offered a distorted view of his overall finances by reporting glowing numbers for his golf courses, hotels and other businesses based on the gross revenues they collected each year. The actual bottom line, after losses and expenses, was much gloomier: In 2018, while Mr. Trump’s public filings showed $434.9 million in revenue, his tax returns declared a total of $47.4 million in losses.

And such dire numbers were not an anomaly. Mr. Trump’s many golf courses, a core component of his business empire, reported losses of $315.6 million from 2000 to 2018, while the income from licensing his name to hotels 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 personally guaranteed, coming due in the next few years.

The Times’s investigation also found that he faces a potentially devastating I.R.S. audit focusing on the huge refund he claimed in 2010, which covered all the federal income taxes he paid from 2005 to 2008, plus interest. Mr. Trump repeatedly cited the ongoing audit as the reason he could not release his tax returns, after initially saying he would, even though nothing about the audit process prevented him from doing so.

If an I.R.S. ruling were to ultimately go against him, Mr. Trump could be forced to pay back more than $100 million, factoring in interest and possible penalties, in addition to some $21.2 million in state and local tax refunds that were based on the figures in his federal filings.

Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig contributed reporting.


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