Donald Trump used his latest rally in Sarasota, Florida to repeat what we have been hearing all these months. With his well-known Trump performance, he managed to energize the Republican supporters, criticized Biden administration’s immigration policies and repeated his false claim that his defeat in the November 2020 election was marred by fraud.
But Trump used this occasion to also speak about the prosecution of the Trump Organization and its CFO. The Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg were both accused of tax fraud using “complicated tax schemes” to avoid paying tax.
According to the prosecutors, the elaborate system of benefits “scheme” includes scholarship for the CFO’s nephew, utility bills and rental payment for the company needs.
And when everyone thought Trump will deny all the arrangements against him, he confirmed their existence. Unfortunately for Trump, his company and Weisselberg, these arrangements have the status of allegations by prosecutors rather than established fact.
According to Trump, his company’s approach to tax was one that anybody might take, and that Manhattan prosecutors were acting disproportionately by pursuing a prosecution.
“They go after good, hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car,” Trump said.
“You didn’t pay tax on the car or a company apartment. You used an apartment because you need an apartment because you have to travel too far where your house is
“You didn’t pay tax. Or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know. Do you have to? Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?”
Thursday early morning Weisselberg turned himself in, hours before Manhattan district attorney’s office officially revealed the charges against Trump Organization and its CFO. Manhattan district attorney’s office filed 15 charges against the company alleging that Weisselberg received perks totaling $1.7 million as a way of dodging tax. Weisselberg has denied the accusation and pleaded not guilty.
Donald Trump has been repeating during the past few months that all criminal investigations against him, his family or the company are politically motivated. On Saturday’s rally, he once again expressed his concern about how unprofessional New York prosecutors really are.
“Think of it, think of how unfair it is. Never before has New York City and their prosecutors or perhaps any prosecutors criminally charged a company or a person for fringe benefits. Fringe benefits. Murders, okay. Human trafficking, no problem — but fringe benefits, you can’t do that.”
Fringe benefits have been part of the US business community and system, they are well acknowledged and broadly used and accepted. There is no way these benefits to be considered as a crime, Trump’s defense said earlier.
Tax experts dug deeper in the case and they explained Associated Press that fringe benefits for employees at companies is quite common, but in the case of Weisselberg those are beyond the norm. The amount Weisselberg received in benefits is a significant part of his overall income from the company and that’s the reason why prosecutors look into this as a tax avoidance, experts added.
Prosecutors said this is just the beginning as these charges are just a ‘tiny’ part of a much broader investigation. Although Trump hasn’t been charged for now, that might change in near future.
The time will show how this will affect Trump’s political career knowing the fact that the latest rallies are probably just the beginning of his frequent future public appearances preparing for the next Presidential Election in 2024.