Manhattan DA Giving Out Trump Org Subpoenas Like Candy
Let's talk about Donald Trump and his alleged tax fuckery! Because who doesn't want to savor every crumb that falls out of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's pockets as he investigates the former president and his vile spawn, right?
But first, a caveat: This story involves very rich people throwing their money around, and that is not the point! Are you personally appalled to see someone spend $50,000 a year to educate a middle schooler? Mazal tov! But can you put aside the pitchfork for a minute so we can 'splain you about tax evasion?
Cool, thanks. Now where were we?
Oh, right, we were at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School on New York's Upper West Side, where families in the Trump orbit fork over massive wads of cash to educate their children. (Again, not the point.) Barron Trump attended the institution when he lived in New York; Michael Cohen once led the school's board; and Trump CEO Allen Weisselberg's grandchildren were also pupils. And that last one is how the school wound up with a subpoena from the grand jury roping them into the ever-expanding Trump investigation, where the district attorney is putting the screws to Weisselberg in an effort to get him to flip on his boss.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
From 2012 to 2019, more than $500,000 of the children's tuition was paid for with checks signed by either Mr. Weisselberg or Mr. Trump, the two children's mother, Jennifer Weisselberg, told The Wall Street Journal. She is the former wife of Mr. Weisselberg's son Barry.
Ms. Weisselberg said she told Manhattan prosecutors that she and Barry understood the tuition payments to be part of her ex-husband's compensation package at the Trump Organization, where he worked.
Hooray! We have finally come to THE POINT. Well, sort of.
No one gives a shit if Allen Weisselberg paid his own grandchildren's tuition, thanks to Internal Revenue Code Section 2503(e), AKA "the Med-Ed exclusion", which says tuition and medical bills don't trigger gift taxes. But Allen Weisselberg's son Barry is a Trump Organization employee, so if Trump paid his kids' tuition, the IRS and the state of New York are quite likely to consider that compensation. And you have to pay taxes on compensation, even if it comes in the form of tuition. Or a free apartment, which apparently it did.
Let's caveat this by saying that Jennifer and Barry Weisselberg seem to have had an exceptionally ugly divorce, and she is clearly in the process of trying to burn her ex-husband's family to the ground. She also has no love for Trump, whom she colorfully accused of hitting on her and passing around photos of naked woman at a funeral. But according to Jennifer Weisselberg, she personally delivered multiple tuition checks to the school signed by Trump himself.
So, let's just game this out, shall we?
The Washington Post reports that the Trump Organization paid Barry Weisselberg $240,000 to manage the Wolman skating rink. But it also provided him with a very nice apartment and some amount of tuition for his kids. If Weisselberg pocketed an extra $100,000 of goodies every year, he really received $200,000 benefit — to write a check for $100,000 in rent and tuition you need to earn $200,000 pre-tax. So in this scenario, Weisselberg's "real" compensation was $440,000, with Uncle Sam and the Empire State getting stiffed for their $100,000 share.
See the problem? Yeah, so does Cy Vance, which is why he subpoenaed Weisselberg and every organization her extended family did business with in the past 10 years.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.