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Donald Trump Is Officially a Tax Cheat (Well, His Company Is)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump Has More Drama Coming His Way: New York judge Juan Merchan has handed down a penalty in the Trump Organization’s tax fraud case. The Trump Organization has been ordered to pay $1.6 million in fines – the maximum possible penalty. The fine was a “symbolic moment” according to CNN “because it is the only judgment for a criminal conviction that has come close to former President Donald Trump.”

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The fine stems from last month’s conviction, of two Trump entities – The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation – on 17 felonies, including tax fraud and falsifying business records.

The case’s prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, said “we all know that these corporations cannot go to jail…the only way to effectively deter such conduct it to make it as expensive as possible.”

Granted, Trump’s multibillion dollar corporations should be able to handle the $1.6 million fine.

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the fine against the Trump Organization was important – but he wants lawmakers to raise the fines against companies that break the law. “The conviction was consequential,” Bragg said, “the first time ever for criminal conviction of former President Trump’s companies, and indeed I would go so far as to say the first time ever for any former president certainly in my lifetime.” But the fine wasn’t enough according to Bragg. “I want to be very clear – we don’t think that is enough. Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic, egregious fraud.”

Bragg is correct. $1.6 million? Will that deter the Trump Organization from engaging in similar behavior in the future? Doubtful. Litigating the case cost significantly more than the fine, I’m sure.

The Trump Organization responds

The Trump Organization, who is well situated to cover the cost of the fines, was critical of the decision. “New York has become the crime and murder capital of the world,” a Trump Organization spokesperson said, “yet these politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to get President Trump and continue the never-ending witch-hunt which began the day he announced his presidency. We did nothing wrong and will appeal the verdict.”

First of all, I’m not sure New York qualifies as the crime and murder capital of the world. I don’t think New York qualifies as the US capital of murder and crime, much less the world capital.

Moving on, I’m receptive to the idea that Trump is the subject of overzealous opposition, who do seem to go out of their way to “get” Trump.

But the business practices of the Trump Organization do seem to have been crooked and worth the prosecutorial effort to disincentivize. Now, would a trial resulting in a $1.6 million fine to a multibillion-dollar corporation generate so much press if it were not the former president’s company? Probably not. But the prosecution itself does not appear superfluous in this case.

Donald Trump: Bigger Problems Coming? 

The Manhattan district attorney is still investigating the Trump Organization’s business practices. “Prosecutors are conducting a wide-ranging investigation and in recent months their focus has returned to the company’s involvement in hush-money payments made to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels from going public with an affair with Trump just before the 2016 election.”

The Trump Organization is also facing down a civil suit, from New York Attorney General Letitia James’, who has brought a $250 million civil lawsuit, which alleges that Trump and his three oldest children, defrauded lenders, and insurers through the inflation of Trump Organization value.

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.