Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and adviser to President Donald Trump, is under fire due after a New York Times report claimed that he has paid virtually no federal income taxes over the past several years.
After reviewing how Kushner has had a very profitable decade and seen his net worth quintuple to almost $324 million, The Times revealed that it had reviewed confidential financial documents – and learned that Kushner had paid almost nothing in federal income taxes:
His low tax bills are the result of a common tax-minimizing maneuver that, year after year, generated millions of dollars in losses for Mr. Kushner, according to the documents. But the losses were only on paper — Mr. Kushner and his company did not appear to actually lose any money. The losses were driven by depreciation, a tax benefit that lets real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year.
The report, which has not been independently verified by Salon, emphasized that there was no indication that Kushner had broken the law by depreciating the value of his real estate holdings. At the same time, the fact that Kushner has paid so little in federal income taxes raises serious questions about his ability to impartially offer advice on matters involving tax policy.
It also calls to mind parallels with Trump's own tax history, which still has not been disclosed to the public nearly two years into his tenure as president. Earlier this month, The Times released another report that revealed the president — despite characterizing himself as a self-made man — had benefited from his father's alleged tax avoidance practices by receiving the modern equivalent of $413 million from his real estate empire:
But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
Despite the relevance of this question to both one of Trump's closest advisers and the president himself, the matter of Kushner's tax background was not raised during his "60 Minutes" interview, which aired Sunday night. The wide-ranging conversation covered topics, including American policy toward Russia and North Korea, the controversial confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the president's own un-scientific views on man-made climate change. The revelations about Kushner, however, were not broached during Trump's conversation with CBS News' Lesley Stahl.