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Donald Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance

Donald Trump paid $750 in federal revenue taxes the 12 months he gained the presidency. In his first 12 months within the White House, he paid one other $750.

He had paid no revenue taxes in any respect in 10 of the earlier 15 years — largely as a result of he reported dropping way more cash than he made.






As the president wages a reelection marketing campaign that polls say he’s at risk of dropping, his funds are below stress, beset by losses and a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in debt coming due that he has personally assured. Also hanging over him is a decadelong audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and obtained, after declaring big losses. An hostile ruling may price him greater than $100 million.

The tax returns that Trump has lengthy fought to maintain personal inform a narrative basically totally different from the one he has offered to the American public. His experiences to the IRS painting a businessman who takes in a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} a 12 months but racks up continual losses that he aggressively employs to keep away from paying taxes. Now, along with his monetary challenges mounting, the data present that he relies upon an increasing number of on earning money from companies that put him in potential and infrequently direct battle of curiosity along with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return knowledge extending over greater than twenty years for Trump and the a whole lot of firms that make up his enterprise group, together with detailed info from his first two years in workplace. It doesn’t embody his private returns for 2018 or 2019. This article gives an outline of The Times’ findings; extra articles will probably be printed within the coming weeks.

The returns are a few of the most sought-after, and speculated-about, data in latest reminiscence. In Trump’s practically 4 years in workplace — and throughout his endlessly hyped a long time within the public eye — journalists, prosecutors, opposition politicians and conspiracists have, with restricted success, sought to excavate the enigmas of his funds. By their very nature, the filings will depart many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise info that Trump has disclosed to the IRS, not the findings of an unbiased monetary examination. They report that Trump owns a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in beneficial property, however they don’t reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any beforehand unreported connections to Russia.

In response to a letter summarizing The Times’ findings, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, mentioned that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the paperwork on which they have been based mostly. After The Times declined to supply the data, to be able to shield its sources, Garten took direct subject solely with the quantity of taxes Trump had paid.

“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Garten mentioned in a press release.

With the time period “personal taxes,” nevertheless, Garten seems to be conflating revenue taxes with different federal taxes Trump has paid — Social Security, Medicare and taxes for his family workers. Garten additionally asserted that a few of what the president owed was “paid with tax credits,” a deceptive characterization of credit, which scale back a enterprise proprietor’s income-tax invoice as a reward for varied actions, like historic preservation.

The tax knowledge examined by The Times offers a street map of revelations, from write-offs for the price of a legal protection lawyer and a mansion used as a household retreat to a full accounting of the hundreds of thousands of {dollars} the president obtained from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

Together with associated monetary paperwork and authorized filings, the data supply essentially the most detailed look but contained in the president’s enterprise empire. They reveal the hollowness, but in addition the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire picture — honed by means of his star activate “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that also undergirds the loyalty of many in his base.

Ultimately, Trump has been extra profitable enjoying a enterprise mogul than being one in actual life.

“The Apprentice,” together with the licensing and endorsement offers that flowed from his increasing superstar, introduced Trump a complete of $427.Four million, The Times’ evaluation of the data discovered. He invested a lot of that in a set of companies, largely golf programs, that within the years since have steadily devoured money — a lot as the cash he secretly obtained from his father financed a spree of quixotic overspending that led to his collapse within the early 1990s.

Indeed, his monetary situation when he introduced his run for president in 2015 lends some credence to the notion that his long-shot marketing campaign was at the least partially a gambit to reanimate the marketability of his identify.

As the authorized and political battles over entry to his tax returns have intensified, Trump has usually questioned aloud why anybody would even need to see them. “There’s nothing to learn from them,” he instructed The Associated Press in 2016. There is much extra helpful info, he has mentioned, within the annual monetary disclosures required of him as president — which he has pointed to as proof of his mastery of a flourishing, and immensely worthwhile, enterprise universe.

In truth, these public filings supply a distorted image of his monetary state, since they merely report income, not revenue. In 2018, for instance, Trump introduced in his disclosure that he had made at the least $434.9 million. The tax data ship a really totally different portrait of his backside line: $47.Four million in losses.

Tax data do not need the specificity to guage the legitimacy of each enterprise expense Trump claims to cut back his taxable revenue — for example, with none rationalization in his returns, the final and administrative bills at his Bedminster golf membership in New Jersey elevated fivefold from 2016 to 2017. And he has beforehand bragged that his means to get by with out paying taxes “makes me smart,” as he mentioned in 2016. But the returns, by his personal account, undercut his claims of monetary acumen, displaying that he’s merely pouring extra money into many companies than he takes out.

The image that maybe emerges most starkly from the mountain of figures and tax schedules ready by Trump’s accountants is of a businessman-president in a tightening monetary vise.

Most of Trump’s core enterprises — from his constellation of golf programs to his conservative-magnet resort in Washington — report dropping hundreds of thousands, if not tens of hundreds of thousands, of {dollars} 12 months after 12 months.

His income from “The Apprentice” and from licensing offers is drying up, and several other years in the past he offered practically all of the shares that now might need helped him plug holes in his struggling properties.

The tax audit looms.

And inside the subsequent 4 years, greater than $300 million in loans — obligations for which he’s personally accountable — will come due.

Against that backdrop, the data go a lot additional towards revealing the precise and potential conflicts of curiosity created by Trump’s refusal to divest himself of his enterprise pursuits whereas within the White House. His properties have grow to be bazaars for accumulating cash immediately from lobbyists, international officers and others looking for face time, entry or favor; the data for the primary time put exact greenback figures on these transactions.

At the Mar-a-Lago membership in Palm Beach, Florida, a flood of latest members beginning in 2015 allowed him to pocket a further $5 million a 12 months from the enterprise. In 2017, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association paid at the least $397,602 to the Washington resort, the place the group held at the least one occasion throughout its four-day World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

The Times was additionally capable of take the fullest measure up to now of the president’s revenue from abroad, the place he holds final sway over American diplomacy. When he took workplace, Trump mentioned he would pursue no new international offers as president. Even so, in his first two years within the White House, his income from overseas totaled $73 million. And whereas a lot of that cash was from his golf properties in Scotland and Ireland, some got here from licensing offers in nations with authoritarian-leaning leaders or thorny geopolitics — for instance, $Three million from the Philippines, $2.Three million from India and $1 million from Turkey.

He reported paying taxes, in flip, on a variety of his abroad ventures. In 2017, the president’s $750 contribution to the operations of the U.S. authorities was dwarfed by the $15,598 he or his firms paid in Panama, the $145,400 in India and the $156,824 within the Philippines.

Trump’s U.S. cost, after factoring in his losses, was roughly equal, in {dollars} not adjusted for inflation, to a different presidential tax invoice revealed practically a half-century earlier than. In 1973, The Providence Journal reported that, after a charitable deduction for donating his presidential papers, Richard Nixon had paid $792.81 in 1970 on revenue of about $200,000.

The leak of Nixon’s small tax cost induced a precedent-setting uproar: Henceforth, presidents, and presidential candidates, would make their tax returns obtainable for the American individuals to see.

A Map of the Empire

The contents of hundreds of private and enterprise tax data fill in monetary particulars which were withheld for years.

“I would love to do that,” Trump mentioned in 2014 when requested whether or not he would launch his taxes if he ran for president. He’s been backpedaling ever since.

When he ran, he mentioned he may make his taxes public if Hillary Clinton did the identical with the deleted emails from her personal server — an echo of his taunt, whereas stoking the birther fiction, that he may launch the returns if President Barack Obama launched his start certificates. He as soon as boasted that his tax returns have been “very big” and “beautiful.” But making them public? “It’s very complicated.” He usually claims that he can not achieve this whereas below audit — an argument refuted by his personal IRS commissioner. When prosecutors and congressional investigators issued subpoenas for his returns, he wielded not simply his personal legal professionals but in addition the facility of his Justice Department to stalemate all of them the way in which to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s elaborate dance and defiance have solely stoked suspicion about what secrets and techniques may lie hidden in his taxes. Is there a monetary clue to his deference to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin? Did he write off as a enterprise expense the hush-money cost to the pornographic movie star Stormy Daniels within the days earlier than the 2016 election? Did a covert supply of cash feed his frenzy of acquisition that started within the mid-2000s?

The Times examined and analyzed the info from hundreds of particular person and enterprise tax returns for 2000 by means of 2017, together with extra tax info from different years. The trove included years of worker compensation info and data of money funds between the president and his companies, in addition to details about ongoing federal audits of his taxes. This article additionally attracts upon dozens of interviews and beforehand unreported materials from different sources, each public and confidential.

All of the data The Times obtained was supplied by sources with authorized entry to it. While many of the tax knowledge has not beforehand been made public, The Times was capable of confirm parts of it by evaluating it with publicly obtainable info and confidential data beforehand obtained by The Times.

To delve into the data is to see up shut the complicated construction of the president’s enterprise pursuits — and the depth of his entanglements. What is popularly referred to as the Trump Organization is in reality a set of greater than 500 entities, just about all of them wholly owned by Trump, many carrying his identify. For instance, 105 of them are a variation of the identify Trump Marks, which he makes use of for licensing offers.

Fragments of Trump’s tax returns have leaked out earlier than.

Transcripts of his fundamental federal tax type, the 1040, from 1985 to 1994, have been obtained by The Times in 2019. They confirmed that, in a few years, Trump misplaced extra money than practically every other particular person American taxpayer. Three pages of his 1995 returns, mailed anonymously to The Times throughout the 2016 marketing campaign, confirmed that Trump had declared losses of $915.7 million, giving him a tax deduction that would have allowed him to keep away from federal revenue taxes for nearly twenty years. Five months later, the journalist David Cay Johnston obtained two pages of Trump’s returns from 2005; that 12 months, his fortunes had rebounded to the purpose that he was paying taxes.

The huge new trove of knowledge analyzed by The Times completes the recurring sample of ascent and decline that has outlined the president’s profession. Even so, it has its limits.

Tax returns don’t, for instance, file internet value — in Trump’s case, a subject of a lot posturing and nearly as a lot debate. The paperwork chart a terrific churn of cash, however whereas returns report money owed, they usually don’t establish lenders.

The knowledge incorporates no new revelations in regards to the $130,000 cost to Stephanie Clifford, the actress who performs as Stormy Daniels — the main target of the Manhattan district legal professional’s subpoena for Trump’s tax returns and different monetary info. Trump has acknowledged reimbursing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who made the payoff, however the supplies obtained by The Times didn’t embody any itemized funds to Cohen. The quantity, nevertheless, may have been improperly included in authorized charges written off as a enterprise expense, which aren’t required to be itemized on tax returns.

No topic has provoked extra intense hypothesis about Trump’s funds than his connection to Russia. While the tax data revealed no beforehand unknown monetary connection — and, for essentially the most half, lack the specificity required to take action — they did shed new gentle on the cash behind the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, a topic of putting up with intrigue due to subsequent investigations into Russia’s interference within the 2016 election.

The data present that the pageant was essentially the most worthwhile Miss Universe throughout Trump’s time as co-owner and that it generated a private payday of $2.Three million — made attainable, at the least partially, by the Agalarov household, who would later assist arrange the notorious 2016 assembly between Trump marketing campaign officers looking for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin.

In August, the Senate Intelligence Committee launched a report that seemed extensively into the circumstances of the Moscow pageant and revealed that as just lately as February, investigators subpoenaed Russian singer Emin Agalarov, who was concerned in planning it. Agalarov’s father, Aras, a billionaire who boasts of shut ties to Putin, was Trump’s accomplice within the occasion.

The committee interviewed a high Miss Universe govt, Paula Shugart, who mentioned the Agalarovs supplied to underwrite the occasion; their household enterprise, Crocus Group, paid a $6 million licensing charge and one other $6 million in bills. But whereas the pageant proved to be a monetary loss for the Agalarovs — they recouped solely $2 million — Shugart instructed investigators that it was “one of the most lucrative deals” the Miss Universe group ever made, in keeping with the report.

That is borne out by the tax data. They present that in 2013, the pageant reported $31.6 million in gross receipts — the best since at the least the 1990s — permitting Trump and his co-owner, NBC, to separate earnings of $4.7 million. By comparability, Trump and NBC shared losses of $2 million from the pageant the 12 months earlier than the Moscow occasion, and $3.Eight million from the one the 12 months after.

Loser, Winner

Losses reported by companies Trump owns and runs helped wipe out tax payments on a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in superstar revenue.

While Trump crisscrossed the nation in 2015 describing himself as uniquely certified to be president as a result of he was “really rich” and had “built a great company,” his accountants again in New York have been busy placing the ending touches on his 2014 tax return.

After tabulating all of the earnings and losses from Trump’s varied endeavors on Form 1040, the accountants got here to Line 56, the place they needed to enter the overall revenue tax the candidate was required to pay. They wanted house for under a single determine.

Zero.

For Trump, that backside line will need to have seemed acquainted. It was the fourth 12 months in a row that he had not paid a penny of federal revenue taxes.

Trump’s avoidance of revenue taxes is among the most putting discoveries in his tax returns, particularly given the huge wash of revenue itemized elsewhere in these filings.

Trump’s internet revenue from his fame — his 50% share of “The Apprentice,” along with the riches showered upon him by the scores of suitors paying to make use of his identify — totaled $427.Four million by means of 2018. An extra $176.5 million in revenue got here to him by means of his funding in two extremely profitable workplace buildings.

So how did he escape practically all taxes on that fortune? Even the efficient tax fee paid by the wealthiest 1% of Americans may have induced him to pay greater than $100 million.

The reply rests in a 3rd class of Trump’s endeavors: companies that he owns and runs himself. The collective and protracted losses he reported from them largely absolved him from paying federal revenue taxes on the $600 million from “The Apprentice,” branding offers and investments.

That equation is a key component of the alchemy of Trump’s funds: utilizing the proceeds of his superstar to buy and prop up dangerous companies, then wielding their losses to keep away from taxes.

Throughout his profession, Trump’s enterprise losses have usually gathered in sums bigger than could possibly be used to cut back taxes on different revenue in a single 12 months. But the tax code gives a workaround: With some restrictions, enterprise homeowners can carry ahead leftover losses to cut back taxes in future years.

That provision has been the background music to Trump’s life. As The Times’ earlier reporting on his 1995 return confirmed, the practically $1 billion in losses from his early-1990s collapse generated a tax deduction that he may use for as much as 18 years going ahead.

The newer tax returns present that Trump burned by means of the final of the tax-reducing energy of that $1 billion in 2005, simply as a torrent of leisure riches started coming his manner following the debut of “The Apprentice” the 12 months earlier than.

For 2005 by means of 2007, money from licensing offers and endorsements stuffed Trump’s financial institution accounts with $120 million in pure revenue. With no prior-year losses left to cut back his taxable revenue, he paid substantial federal revenue taxes for the primary time in his life: a complete of $70.1 million.

As his superstar revenue swelled, Trump went on a shopping for spree not like any he had had for the reason that 1980s, when keen banks and his father’s wealth allowed him to purchase or construct the casinos, airplanes, yacht and outdated resort that will quickly lay him low.

When “The Apprentice” premiered, Trump had opened solely two golf programs and was renovating two extra. By the tip of 2015, he had 15 programs and was reworking the Old Post Office constructing in Washington right into a Trump International Hotel. But relatively than making him wealthier, the tax data reveal as by no means earlier than, every new acquisition solely fed the downward draft on his backside line.

Consider the outcomes at his largest golf resort, Trump National Doral, close to Miami. Trump purchased the resort for $150 million in 2012; by means of 2018, his losses have totaled $162.Three million. He has pumped $213 million of contemporary money into Doral, tax data present, and has a $125 million mortgage stability coming due in three years.

His three programs in Europe — two in Scotland and one in Ireland — have reported a mixed $63.6 million in losses.

Overall, since 2000, Trump has reported losses of $315.6 million on the golf programs which are his prized possessions.

For all of its Trumpworld attract, his Washington resort, opened in 2016, has not fared a lot better. Its tax data present losses by means of 2018 of $55.5 million.

And Trump Corp., an actual property companies firm, has reported dropping $134 million since 2000. Trump personally bankrolled the losses 12 months after 12 months, marking his money infusions as a mortgage with an ever-increasing stability, his tax data present. In 2016, he gave up on getting paid again and turned the mortgage right into a money contribution.

Trump has usually posited that his losses are extra accounting magic than precise cash out the door.

Last 12 months, after The Times printed particulars of his tax returns from the 1980s and 1990s, he attributed the pink ink to depreciation, which he mentioned in a tweet would present “losses in almost all cases” and that “much was non monetary.”

“I love depreciation,” Trump mentioned throughout a presidential debate in 2016.

Depreciation, although, will not be a magic wand — it includes actual cash spent or borrowed to purchase buildings or different property which are anticipated to final years. Those prices have to be unfold out as bills and deducted over the helpful lifetime of the asset. Even so, the principles do maintain specific benefits for actual property builders like Trump, who’re allowed to make use of their actual property losses to cut back their taxable revenue from different actions.

What the tax data for Trump’s companies present, nevertheless, is that he has misplaced chunks of his fortune even earlier than depreciation is figured in. The three European golf programs, the Washington resort, Doral and Trump Corp. reported dropping a complete of $150.Three million from 2010 by means of 2018, with out together with depreciation as an expense.

To see what a profitable enterprise seems to be like, depreciation or not, look no additional than one in Trump’s portfolio that he doesn’t handle.

After plans for a Trump-branded mini-city on the Far West Side of Manhattan stalled within the 1990s, Trump’s stake was offered by his accomplice to Vornado Realty Trust. Trump objected to the sale in courtroom, saying he had not been consulted, however he ended up with a 30% share of two beneficial workplace buildings owned and operated by Vornado.

His share of the earnings by means of the tip of 2018 totaled $176.5 million, with depreciation factored in. He has by no means needed to make investments extra money within the partnership, tax data present.

Among companies he runs, Trump’s first success stays his finest. The retail and business areas at Trump Tower, accomplished in 1983, have reliably delivered greater than $20 million a 12 months in earnings, a complete of $336.Three million since 2000 that has finished a lot to assist preserve him afloat.

Trump has a longtime observe file of stiffing his lenders. But the tax returns reveal that he has didn’t pay again far extra money than beforehand identified: a complete of $287 million since 2010.

The IRS considers forgiven debt to be revenue, however Trump was capable of keep away from taxes on a lot of that cash by decreasing his means to declare future enterprise losses. For the remainder, he took benefit of a provision of the Great Recession bailout that allowed revenue from canceled debt to be fully deferred for 5 years, then unfold out evenly over the subsequent 5. He declared the primary $28.2 million in 2014.

Once once more, his enterprise losses largely absolved his tax tasks. He paid no federal revenue taxes for 2014.

Trump was periodically required to pay a parallel revenue tax known as the choice minimal tax, created as a tripwire to stop rich individuals from utilizing big deductions, together with enterprise losses, to completely wipe out their tax liabilities.

Trump paid different minimal tax in seven years between 2000 and 2017 — a complete of $24.Three million, excluding refunds he obtained after submitting. For 2015, he paid $641,931, his first cost of any federal revenue tax since 2010.

As he settled into the Oval Office, his tax payments quickly returned to type. His potential taxable revenue in 2016 and 2017 included $24.Eight million in earnings from sources associated to his superstar standing and $56.Four million for the loans he didn’t repay. The dreaded different minimal tax would let his enterprise losses erase solely a few of his legal responsibility.

Each time, he requested an extension to file his 1040; and every time, he made the required cost to the IRS for revenue taxes he may owe — $1 million for 2016 and $4.2 million for 2017. But just about all of that legal responsibility was washed away when he finally filed, and many of the funds have been rolled ahead to cowl potential taxes in future years.

To cancel out the tax payments, Trump made use of $9.7 million in enterprise funding credit, at the least a few of which associated to his renovation of the Old Post Office resort, which certified for a historic-preservation tax break. Although he had greater than sufficient credit to owe no taxes in any respect, his accountants seem to have carved out an allowance for a small tax legal responsibility for each 2016 and 2017.

When they acquired to line 56, the one for revenue taxes due, the quantity was the identical every year: $750.

The $72.9 Million Maneuver

“The Apprentice” created what was most likely the largest revenue tax chunk of Trump’s life. During the Great Recession bailout, he requested for the cash again.

Testifying earlier than Congress in February 2019, the president’s estranged private lawyer, Cohen, recalled Trump’s displaying him an enormous examine from the U.S. Treasury some years earlier and musing “that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving someone like him that much money back.”

In truth, confidential data present that beginning in 2010 he claimed, and obtained, an revenue tax refund totaling $72.9 million — all of the federal revenue tax he had paid for 2005 by means of 2008, plus curiosity.

The legitimacy of that refund is on the heart of the audit battle that he has lengthy been waging, out of public view, with the IRS.

The data that The Times reviewed sq. with the way in which Trump has repeatedly cited, with out rationalization, an ongoing audit as grounds for refusing to launch his tax returns. He alluded to it as just lately as July on Fox News, when he instructed Sean Hannity, “They treat me horribly, the IRS, horribly.”

And whereas the data don’t lay out all the small print of the audit, they match his legal professionals’ assertion throughout the 2016 marketing campaign that audits of his returns for 2009 and subsequent years remained open, and concerned “transactions or activities that were also reported on returns for 2008 and earlier.”

Trump harvested that refund bonanza by declaring big enterprise losses — a complete of $1.Four billion from his core companies for 2008 and 2009 — that tax legal guidelines had prevented him from utilizing in prior years.

But to show that lengthy arc of failure into an enormous refund examine, he relied on some deft accounting footwork and an unwitting present from an unlikely supply — Obama.

Business losses can work like a tax-avoidance coupon: A greenback misplaced on one enterprise reduces a greenback of taxable revenue from elsewhere. The varieties and quantities of revenue that can be utilized in a given 12 months differ, relying on an proprietor’s tax standing. But some losses may be saved for later use, and even used to request a refund on taxes paid in a previous 12 months.

Until 2009, these coupons could possibly be used to wipe away taxes going again solely two years. But that November, the window was greater than doubled by a little-noticed provision in a invoice Obama signed as a part of the Great Recession restoration effort. Now enterprise homeowners may request full refunds of taxes paid within the prior 4 years and 50% of these from the 12 months earlier than that.

Trump had paid no revenue taxes in 2008. But the change meant that when he filed his taxes for 2009, he may search a refund of not simply the $13.Three million he had paid in 2007 but in addition the mixed $56.9 million paid in 2005 and 2006, when “The Apprentice” created what was doubtless the largest revenue tax chunk of his life.

The data reviewed by The Times point out that Trump filed for the primary of a number of tranches of his refund a number of weeks later, in January 2010. That set off what tax professionals check with as a “quickie refund,” a examine processed in 90 days on a tentative foundation, pending an audit by the IRS.

His complete federal revenue tax refund would finally develop to $70.1 million, plus $2,733,184 in curiosity. He additionally obtained $21.2 million in state and native refunds, which regularly piggyback on federal filings.

Whether Trump will get to maintain the money, although, stays removed from a certain factor.

Refunds require the approval of IRS auditors and an opinion of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, a bipartisan panel higher identified for reviewing the influence of tax laws. Tax legislation requires the committee to weigh in on all refunds bigger than $2 million to people.

Records present that the outcomes of an audit of Trump’s refund have been despatched to the joint committee within the spring of 2011. An settlement was reached in late 2014, the paperwork point out, however the audit resumed and grew to incorporate Trump’s returns for 2010 by means of 2013. In the spring of 2016, with Trump closing in on the Republican nomination, the case was despatched again to the committee. It has remained there, unresolved, with the statute of limitations repeatedly pushed ahead.

Precisely why the case has stalled will not be clear. But specialists say it means that the hole between the perimeters stays large. If negotiations have been to impasse, the case would transfer to federal courtroom, the place it may grow to be a matter of public file.

The dispute could heart on a single declare that jumps off the web page of Trump’s 2009 tax return: a declaration of greater than $700 million in enterprise losses that he had not been allowed to make use of in prior years. Unleashing that big tax-avoidance coupon enabled him to obtain some or all of his refund.

The materials obtained by The Times doesn’t establish the enterprise or companies that generated these losses. But the losses have been a sort that may be claimed solely when companions quit their curiosity in a enterprise. And in 2009, Trump parted methods with an enormous cash loser: his long-failing Atlantic City casinos.

After Trump’s bondholders rebuffed his supply to purchase them out, and with a 3rd spherical of chapter solely every week away, Trump introduced in February 2009 that he was quitting the board of administrators.

“If I’m not going to run it, I don’t want to be involved in it,” he instructed The Associated Press. “I’m one of the largest developers in the world. I have a lot of cash and plenty of places I can go.”

The identical day, he notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that he had “determined that his partnership interests are worthless and lack potential to regain value” and was “hereby abandoning” his stake.

The language was essential. Trump was utilizing the exact wording of IRS guidelines governing essentially the most helpful, and maybe aggressive, methodology for enterprise homeowners to keep away from taxes when separating from a enterprise.

A accomplice who walks away from a enterprise with nothing — what tax legal guidelines check with as abandonment — can immediately declare all of the losses on the enterprise that would not be utilized in prior years. But there are a number of catches, together with this: Abandonment is actually an all-or-nothing proposition. If the IRS learns that the proprietor obtained something of worth, the allowable losses are lowered to simply $3,000 a 12 months.

And Trump does seem to have obtained one thing. When the on line casino chapter concluded, he acquired 5% of the inventory within the new firm. The supplies reviewed by The Times don’t clarify whether or not Trump’s refund software mirrored his public declaration of abandonment. If it did, that 5% may place his whole refund in query.

If the auditors in the end disallow Trump’s $72.9 million federal refund, he will probably be compelled to return that cash with curiosity, and presumably penalties, a complete that would exceed $100 million. He may be ordered to return the state and native refunds based mostly on the identical claims.

In response to a query in regards to the audit, Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, mentioned details cited by The Times have been incorrect, with out citing specifics. He did, nevertheless, write that it was “illogical” to say Trump had not paid taxes for these three years simply because the cash was later refunded.

“While you claim that President Trump paid no taxes in 10 of the 15 previous years,” Garten mentioned, “you additionally assert that President Trump claimed a large refund for tens of hundreds of thousands for taxes he did pay. These two claims are fully inconsistent and, in any occasion, not supported by the details.”

House Democrats who’ve been in scorching pursuit of Trump’s tax returns most probably don’t know that at the least a few of the data are sitting in a congressional workplace constructing. George Yin, a former chief of workers for the joint committee, mentioned that any figuring out details about taxpayers below evaluate was tightly held amongst a handful of workers legal professionals and was hardly ever shared with politicians assigned to the committee.

It is feasible that the case has been paused as a result of Trump is president, which might increase the private stakes of reelection. If the latest Fox interview is any indication, Trump appears more and more agitated in regards to the matter.

“It’s a disgrace what’s happened,” he instructed Hannity. “We had a deal done. In fact, it was — I guess it was signed even. And once I ran, or once I won, or somewhere back a long time ago, everything was like, ‘Well, let’s start all over again.’ It’s a disgrace.”

The 20% Solution

Helping to cut back Trump’s tax payments are unidentified consultants’ charges, a few of which may be matched to funds obtained by Ivanka Trump.

Examining the Trump Organization’s tax data, a curious sample emerges: Between 2010 and 2018, Trump wrote off some $26 million in unexplained “consulting fees” as a enterprise expense throughout practically all of his initiatives.

In most circumstances the charges have been roughly one-fifth of his revenue: In Azerbaijan, Trump collected $5 million on a resort deal and reported $1.1 million in consulting charges, whereas in Dubai it was $Three million with a $630,000 charge, and so forth.

Mysterious massive funds in enterprise offers can increase pink flags, notably in locations the place bribes or kickbacks to middlemen are routine. But there isn’t any proof that Trump, who largely licenses his identify to different individuals’s initiatives and isn’t concerned in securing authorities approvals, has engaged in such practices.

Rather, there seems to be a closer-to-home rationalization for at the least a few of the charges: Trump lowered his taxable revenue by treating a member of the family as a marketing consultant after which deducting the charge as a price of doing enterprise.

The “consultants” are usually not recognized within the tax data. But proof of this association was gleaned by evaluating the confidential tax data to the monetary disclosures Ivanka Trump filed when she joined the White House workers in 2017. Ivanka Trump reported receiving funds from a consulting firm she co-owned, totaling $747,622, that precisely matched consulting charges claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for resort initiatives in Vancouver and Hawaii.

Ivanka Trump had been an govt officer of the Trump firms that obtained earnings from and paid the consulting charges for each initiatives — that means she seems to have been handled as a marketing consultant on the identical resort offers that she helped handle as a part of her job at her father’s enterprise.

When requested in regards to the association, the Trump Organization lawyer, Garten, didn’t remark.

Employers can deduct consulting charges as a enterprise expense and in addition keep away from the withholding taxes that apply to wages. To declare the deduction, the consulting association have to be an “ordinary and necessary” a part of working the enterprise, with charges which are cheap and market-based, in keeping with the IRS. The recipient of the charges continues to be required to pay revenue tax.

The IRS has pursued civil penalties in opposition to some enterprise homeowners who devised schemes to keep away from taxes by paying exorbitant charges to associated events who weren’t in reality unbiased contractors. A 2011 tax courtroom case centered on the IRS’ denial of just about $Three million in deductions for consulting charges the companions in an Illinois accounting agency paid themselves through firms they created. The courtroom concluded that the companions had structured the charges to “distribute profits, not to compensate for services.”

There is not any indication that the IRS has questioned Donald Trump’s follow of deducting hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in consulting charges. If the funds to his daughter have been compensation for work, it isn’t clear why Trump would do it on this type, aside from to cut back his personal tax legal responsibility. Another, extra legally perilous chance is that the charges have been a method to switch property to his kids with out incurring a present tax.

A Times investigation in 2018 discovered that Trump’s late father, Fred Trump, employed a variety of legally doubtful schemes a long time in the past to evade present taxes on hundreds of thousands of {dollars} he transferred to his kids. It will not be attainable to discern from this newer assortment of tax data whether or not intra-family monetary maneuverings have been a motivating issue.

However, the truth that a few of the consulting charges are an identical to these reported by Trump’s daughter raises the query of whether or not this was a mechanism the president used to compensate his grownup kids concerned along with his enterprise. Indeed, in some situations the place massive charges have been claimed, individuals with direct data of the initiatives weren’t conscious of any outdoors consultants who would have been paid.

On the failed resort deal in Azerbaijan, which was suffering from suspicions of corruption, a Trump Organization lawyer instructed The New Yorker the corporate was innocent as a result of it was merely a licenser and had no substantive position, including, “We did not pay any money to anyone.” Yet, the tax data for 3 Trump LLCs concerned in that venture present deductions for consulting charges totaling $1.1 million that have been paid to somebody.

In Turkey, an individual immediately concerned in growing two Trump towers in Istanbul expressed bafflement when requested about consultants on the venture, telling The Times there was by no means any marketing consultant or different third celebration in Turkey paid by the Trump Organization. But tax data present common deductions for consulting charges over seven years totaling $2 million.

Ivanka Trump disclosed in her public submitting that the charges she obtained have been paid by means of TTT Consulting LLC, which she mentioned supplied “consulting, licensing and management services for real estate projects.” Incorporated in Delaware in December 2005, the agency is certainly one of a number of Trump-related entities with some variation of TTT or TTTT within the identify that seem to check with members of the Trump household.

Like her brothers Donald Jr. and Eric, Ivanka Trump was a longtime worker of the Trump Organization and an govt officer for greater than 200 Trump firms that licensed or managed resort and resort properties. The tax data present that the three siblings had every drawn a wage from their father’s firm — roughly $480,000 a 12 months, leaping to about $2 million after Donald Trump grew to become president — though Ivanka Trump not receives a wage. What’s extra, Donald Trump has mentioned the youngsters have been intimately concerned in negotiating and managing his initiatives. When requested in a 2011 lawsuit deposition whom he relied on to deal with necessary particulars of his licensing offers, he named solely Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric.

On Ivanka Trump’s now-defunct web site, which explains her position on the Trump Organization, she was not recognized as a marketing consultant. Rather, she has been described as a senior govt who “actively participates in all points of each Trump and Trump branded initiatives, together with deal analysis, predevelopment planning, financing, design, development, gross sales and advertising, and guaranteeing that Trump’s world-renowned bodily and operational requirements are met.

“She is concerned in all choices — massive and small.”

The Art of the Write-Off

Hair stylists, desk linens, property taxes on a household property — all have been deducted as enterprise bills.

Private jets, nation golf equipment and mansions have all had a job within the promoting of Donald Trump.

“I play to people’s fantasies,” he wrote in “Trump: The Art of the Deal.” “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

If the singular Trump product is Trump in an exaggerated type — the person, the approach to life, the acquisitiveness — then every part that feeds the picture, together with the price of his companies, may be written off on his taxes. Trump could also be reporting enterprise losses to the federal government, however he can nonetheless dwell a lifetime of wealth and write it off.

Take, for instance, Mar-a-Lago, now the president’s everlasting residence in addition to a personal membership and stage set on which Trump luxurious performs out. As a enterprise, it’s also the supply of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in bills deducted from taxable revenue, amongst them $109,433 for linens and silver and $197,829 for landscaping in 2017. Also deducted as a enterprise expense was the $210,000 paid to a Florida photographer through the years for taking pictures quite a few occasions on the membership, together with a 2016 New Year’s Eve celebration hosted by Trump.

Trump has written off as enterprise bills prices — together with gas and meals — related along with his plane, used to shuttle him amongst his varied properties and properties. Likewise the price of haircuts, together with the greater than $70,000 paid to type his hair throughout “The Apprentice.” Together, 9 Trump entities have written off at the least $95,464 paid to a favourite hair and make-up artist of Ivanka Trump.

In permitting enterprise bills to be deducted, the IRS requires that they be “ordinary and necessary,” a loosely outlined customary usually interpreted generously by enterprise homeowners.

Perhaps Trump’s most beneficiant interpretation of the enterprise expense write-off is his therapy of the Seven Springs property in Westchester County, New York.

Seven Springs is a throwback to a different period. The fundamental home, in-built 1919 by Eugene Meyer, the onetime head of the Federal Reserve who purchased The Washington Post in 1933, sits on greater than 200 acres of lush, nearly untouched land simply an hour’s drive north of New York City.

“The mansion is 50,000 square feet, has three pools, carriage houses, and is surrounded by nature preserves,” in keeping with The Trump Organization web site.

Trump had massive plans when he purchased the property in 1996 — a golf course, a clubhouse and 15 personal properties. But residents of surrounding cities thwarted his ambitions, arguing that growth would draw an excessive amount of visitors and threat polluting the consuming water.

Trump as an alternative discovered a method to reap tax advantages from the property. He took benefit of what’s referred to as a conservation easement. In 2015, he signed a take care of a land conservancy, agreeing to not develop many of the property. In alternate, he claimed a $21.1 million charitable tax deduction.

The tax data reveal one other manner Seven Springs has generated substantial tax financial savings. In 2014, Trump labeled the property as an funding property, as distinct from a private residence. Since then, he has written off $2.2 million in property taxes as a enterprise expense — whilst his 2017 tax legislation allowed people to jot down off solely $10,000 in property taxes a 12 months.

Courts have held that to deal with residences as companies for tax functions, homeowners should present that they’ve “an actual and honest objective of making a profit,” sometimes by making substantial efforts to hire the property and finally producing revenue.

Whether or not Seven Springs matches these standards, the Trumps have described the property considerably in another way.

In 2014, Eric Trump instructed Forbes that “this is really our compound.” Growing up, he and his brother Donald Jr. spent many summers there, driving all-terrain autos and fishing on a close-by lake. At one level, the brothers took up residence in a carriage home on the property. “It was home base for us for a long, long time,” Eric instructed Forbes.

And the Trump Organization web site nonetheless describes Seven Springs as a “retreat for the Trump family.”

Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, didn’t reply to a query in regards to the Seven Springs write-off.

The Seven Springs conservation-easement deduction is certainly one of 4 that Donald Trump has claimed through the years. While his use of those deductions is extensively identified, his tax data present that they symbolize the lion’s share of his charitable giving — about $119.Three million of roughly $130 million in private and company charitable contributions reported to the IRS.

Two of these deductions — at Seven Springs and on the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles — are the main target of an investigation by the New York legal professional normal, who’s analyzing whether or not the value determinations on the land, and subsequently the tax deductions, have been inflated.

Another frequent deductible expense for all companies is authorized charges. The IRS requires that these charges be “directly related to operating your business,” and companies can not deduct “legal fees paid to defend charges that arise from participation in a political campaign.”

Yet the tax data present that the Trump Corp. wrote off as enterprise bills charges paid to a legal protection lawyer, Alan S. Futerfas, who was employed to symbolize Donald Trump Jr. throughout the Russia inquiry. Investigators have been analyzing Donald Jr.’s position within the 2016 Trump Tower assembly with Russians who had promised damaging info on Clinton. When he testified earlier than Congress in 2017, Futerfas was by his facet.

Futerfas was additionally employed to defend the president’s embattled charitable basis, which might be shut down in 2018 after New York regulators mentioned it had engaged in “a shocking pattern of illegality.”

The Trump Corp. paid Futerfas at the least $1.9 million in 2017 and 2018, tax data present. Also written off was at the least $259,684 paid to Williams & Jensen, one other legislation agency introduced in throughout the identical interval to symbolize Donald Trump Jr.

A President and a Businessman

Deals in nations led by strongmen, tenants who’ve enterprise earlier than the federal authorities, and resorts and golf equipment that draw these looking for entry or favor.

In May, the chairman of a commerce group representing Turkish enterprise pursuits wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging assist for elevated commerce between the United States and Turkey. The final aim was nothing lower than “reorienting the U.S. supply chain away from China.”

The letter was amongst three despatched to Cabinet secretaries by Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, chairman of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, who famous that he had copied every one to Trump.

The president wanted no introduction to Yalcindag: The Turkish businessman helped negotiate a licensing deal in 2008 for his household’s firm to develop two Trump towers in Istanbul. The tax data present the deal has earned Trump at the least $13 million — excess of beforehand identified — together with greater than $1 million since he entered the White House, whilst his onetime affiliate now lobbies on behalf of Turkish pursuits.

Yalcindag mentioned that he had “remained friendly” with Trump since their work collectively years in the past however that every one communications between his commerce group and the administration “go through formal channels and are properly disclosed.”

The moral quandaries created by Trump’s resolution to maintain his enterprise whereas within the White House have been documented. But the total monetary measure of his extraordinary confluence of pursuits — a president with a wealth of enterprise entanglements at residence and in myriad geopolitical scorching spots — has remained elusive.

The tax data for Trump and his a whole lot of firms present exactly how a lot cash he has obtained through the years, and the way closely he has come to depend on leveraging his model in ways in which pose potential or direct conflicts of curiosity whereas he’s president. The data additionally present the primary dependable window onto his funds earlier than 2014, the earliest 12 months coated by his required annual disclosures, displaying that his complete earnings from some initiatives outdoors the United States have been bigger than indicated by these restricted public filings.

Based on the monetary disclosures, which report a lot of his revenue in broad ranges, Trump’s earnings from the Istanbul towers may have been as little as $3.2 million. In the Philippines, the place he licensed his identify to a Manila tower practically a decade in the past, the low finish of the vary was $4.1 million — lower than half of the $9.Three million he truly made. In Azerbaijan, he collected greater than $5 million for the failed resort venture, about twice what appeared on his public filings.

It didn’t take lengthy for conflicts to emerge when Trump ran for president and gained. The Philippines’ strongman chief, Rodrigo Duterte, selected as a particular commerce envoy to Washington the businessman behind the Trump tower in Manila. In Argentina, a key one that had been concerned in a Uruguayan licensing deal that earned Trump $2.Three million was appointed to a Cabinet submit.

The president’s conflicts have been most evident with Turkey, the place the enterprise group and the authoritarian authorities of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan haven’t hesitated to leverage varied Trump enterprises to their benefit. When Turkish-American relations have been at a low level, a Turkish enterprise group canceled a convention at Trump’s Washington resort; six months later, when the 2 nations have been on higher phrases, the rescheduled occasion was attended by Turkish authorities officers. Turkish Airlines additionally selected the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia to host an occasion.

More broadly, the tax data counsel different methods during which Trump’s presidency has propped up his sagging backside line. Monthly bank card receipts, reported to the IRS by third-party card processing companies, mirror the way in which sure of his resorts, golf programs and resorts grew to become favored stamping grounds, if not venues for influence-trading, starting in 2015 and persevering with into his time within the White House.

The bank card knowledge doesn’t mirror complete income and is helpful primarily for displaying short-term ups and downs of shopper curiosity in a enterprise. While two of Trump’s marquee attracts — the Washington resort within the Old Post Office and the Doral golf resort — are loaded with debt and proceed to lose cash, each have seen bank card transactions rise markedly along with his political ascent.

At the resort, the month-to-month receipts grew from $3.7 million in December 2016 shortly after it opened, to $5.Four million in January 2017 and $6 million by May 2018. At Doral, after Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015, bank card income greater than doubled, to $13 million, for the three months by means of August, in contrast with the identical interval the 12 months earlier than.

One Trump enterprise that has been usually worthwhile and is a persistent supply of concern about moral conflicts and nationwide safety lapses, is the Mar-a-Lago membership. Profits there rose sharply after Trump declared his candidacy, as courtiers eagerly becoming a member of up introduced a tenfold rise in money from initiation charges — from $664,000 in 2014 to simply below $6 million in 2016, even earlier than Trump doubled the price of initiation in January 2017. The membership rush allowed the president to take $26 million out of the enterprise from 2015 by means of 2018, practically triple the speed at which he had paid himself within the prior two years.

Some of the most important funds from enterprise teams for occasions or conferences at Mar-a-Lago and different Trump properties have come since Trump grew to become president, the tax data present.

At Doral, Trump collected a complete of at the least $7 million in 2015 and 2016 from Bank of America, and at the least $1.2 million in 2017 and 2018 from a commerce affiliation representing meals retailers and wholesalers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce paid Doral at the least $406,599 in 2018.

Beyond one-time funds for occasions or memberships, massive firms additionally pay hire for house within the few business buildings Trump truly owns. Walgreens, the pharmacy big that resolved an antitrust matter earlier than federal regulators in 2017, pays $3.Four million a 12 months for a lease at 40 Wall Street, a Trump-owned workplace constructing in Manhattan.

Another renter at 40 Wall, for $2.5 million a 12 months, is Atane Engineers, which modified its identify in 2018 after a corruption scandal that culminated in two former high executives’ pleading responsible to paying bribes for metropolis infrastructure contracts. Despite the legal case — which landed the corporate on New York state’s checklist of “non-responsible entities” that require a waiver to acquire state contracts — the newly christened Atane registered as an eligible federal contractor with no restrictions listed in its file.

Rental revenue general at 40 Wall has risen markedly, from $30.5 million in 2014 to $43.2 million in 2018. The tax data present that the price of present leases there has risen. and at the least 4 legislation companies seem to have moved in since Trump ran for president.

In addition to buildings he owns outright, there’s the president’s stake within the Vornado partnerships that management two beneficial workplace towers — 1290 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and 555 California Street in San Francisco. Vornado’s chief govt, Steven Roth, is a detailed Trump ally just lately named to the White House financial restoration council. Last 12 months, the president appointed Roth’s spouse, Daryl Roth, to the Kennedy Center board of trustees.

Vornado tenants embody a roster of blue-chip companies paying multimillion-dollar leases, lots of whom usually do enterprise with, foyer or are regulated by the federal authorities. Among the handfuls of leases paid in 2018 to Trump’s Vornado partnerships, in keeping with his tax data, have been $5.Eight million from Goldman Sachs; $3.1 million from Microsoft; $32.7 million from Neuberger Berman, an funding administration firm; and $8.Eight million from the legislation agency Kirkland & Ellis.

The Gathering Storm

Threats are converging: mounting enterprise losses, the looming IRS audit and personally assured money owed coming due.

When Trump glided down a gilded Trump Tower escalator to kick off his presidential marketing campaign in June 2015, his funds wanted a jolt.

His core companies have been reporting mounting losses — greater than $100 million over the earlier two years. The river of celebrity-driven revenue that had lengthy buoyed them was working dry.

If Trump hoped his unlikely candidacy may, at the least, revitalize his model, his barrage of derogatory remarks about immigrants rapidly price him two of his greatest and best sources of money — licensing offers with clothes and mattress producers that had netted him greater than $30 million. NBC, his accomplice in Miss Universe — supply of practically $20 million in earnings — introduced that it might not broadcast the pageant; he offered it quickly after.

Now his tax data clarify that he’s dealing with a battery of threats to his enterprise and his personal monetary well-being.

Over the previous decade, he seems to have stuffed the cash-flow gaps with a sequence of one-shots that is probably not obtainable once more.

In 2012, he took out a $100 million mortgage on the business house in Trump Tower. He took practically all the quantity as a payout, his tax data present. His firm has paid greater than $15 million in curiosity on the mortgage however nothing on the principal. The full $100 million comes due in 2022.

In 2013, he withdrew $95.Eight million from his Vornado partnership account.

And in January 2014, he offered $98 million in shares and bonds, his greatest single month of gross sales in at the least the final twenty years. He offered $54 million extra in shares and bonds in 2015, and $68.2 million in 2016. His monetary disclosure launched in July confirmed that he had as little as $873,000 in securities left to promote.

Trump’s companies reported money available of $34.7 million in 2018, down 40% from 5 years earlier.

What’s extra, the tax data present that Trump has as soon as once more finished what he says he regrets, trying again on his early 1990s meltdown: personally assured a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in loans, a call that led his lenders to threaten to power him into private chapter.

This time round, he’s personally answerable for loans and different money owed totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due inside 4 years. Should he win reelection, his lenders could possibly be positioned within the unprecedented place of weighing whether or not to foreclose on a sitting president.

There is, nevertheless, a tax profit for Trump. While enterprise homeowners can use losses to keep away from taxes, they’ll achieve this solely as much as the quantity invested within the enterprise. But by taking private accountability for that $421 million in debt, Trump would be capable of declare that quantity in losses in future years.

The balances on these loans had not been paid down by the tip of 2018. And the companies carrying the majority of the debt — the Doral golf resort ($125 million) and the Washington resort ($160 million) — are struggling, which may make it troublesome to discover a lender prepared to refinance it.

The unresolved audit of his $72.9 million tax refund hangs over his head.

The broader financial system guarantees little aid. Across the nation, brick-and-mortar shops are in decline, they usually have been essential to Trump Tower, which has in flip been essential to Trump. Nike, which rented the house for its flagship retailer in a constructing hooked up to Trump Tower and had paid $195.1 million in hire for the reason that 1990s, left in 2018.

The president’s most up-to-date monetary disclosure reported modest positive aspects in 2019. But that was earlier than the pandemic hit. His already struggling properties have been shut down for a number of months earlier this 12 months. The Doral resort requested Deutsche Bank to permit a delay on its mortgage funds. Analysts have predicted that the resort enterprise is not going to absolutely get well till late 2023.

Trump nonetheless has property to promote. But doing so may take its personal toll, each monetary and to Trump’s want to at all times be seen as a winner. The Trump household mentioned final 12 months that it was contemplating promoting the Washington resort however not as a result of it was dropping cash.

In Trump’s telling, any problem in his funds has been brought on by the sacrifices made for his present job.

“They say, ‘Trump is getting rich off our nation,’” he mentioned at a rally in Minneapolis final October. “I lose billions being president, and I don’t care. It’s nice to be rich, I guess, but I lose billions.”

Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire c.2020 The New York Times Company


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