Contrary to the public image he has been selling, Donald Trump is no self-made man. At the age of three, Trump was earning $200,000 a year (adjusted for present rates) from his father’s empire.
He was a millionaire by age eight. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after he graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s.
In his version of success story, Trump claimed that he wagered an initial $1 million loan from his father Fred C Trump, who was a renowned real estate giant in New York, into a $10 billion empire. When he was campaigning, Trump repeatedly boasted of his ability to turn a small loan from his father into his fortune. “My father gave me a very small loan in 1975,” he had said, “and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars.”
In October, 2015, Trump said, “It has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”
In February, 2016, Trump reiterating how he got the “small” loan from his father, the then presidential candidate had said, “He (Marco Rubio) also said I got $200 million from my father. I wish. I wish. I got a very, very small loan from my father many years ago. I built that into a massive empire and I paid my father back that loan… The number is wrong by a factor of hundreds of — I mean, by a fortune. I got a small loan. I started a business.”
According to The New York Times, before Fred Trump died in the late 1990s, he transferred ownership of most of his real estate empire to his four living children. The value of the properties in tax returns summed up to $41.4 million, vastly less than The New York Times says they were worth.
The same properties would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount. In total, the president’s father and mother transferred over $1 billion to their children, according to The New York Times tally.
The New York Times said Trump’s tax-hating father used various methods to funnel his wealth to his children and shield it from the Internal Revenue Service, some of which tax experts said were improper or possibly illegal.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden called for federal tax authorities to investigate as well. “It’s critical that IRS fully investigate these allegations and prosecute any violations to the fullest extent of the law.”
Trump has been repeatedly rebuked over ethics violations for refusing to divest his assets in the Trump Organization, instead turning over control of the entity to his sons, Donald Jr and Eric. The president also continues to stay or make use of hotels and golf clubs he owns, leading to conflict of interest allegations and multiple lawsuits.