- First defense witness for the Trump organization. His tax evasion trial is with an outside accountant, Donald Bender.
- He testified on Tuesday that he “would have had a heart attack” had he seen how the company paid out his Christmas bonus.
- Executives received bonuses in piecemeal checks signed by Trump.
longtime outside accountant Trump organization testifies in tax evasion At the hearing on Tuesday, he said he would have been more shocked if he had seen the company’s annual list of “secrets” about paying out Christmas bonuses.
“I probably would have had a heart attack,” Donald Bender, who has handled corporate taxes for 35 years, told a Manhattan jury on Tuesday.
For years, former President Donald Trump personally signed massive bonus checks and stuffed them into holiday cards for well-meaning business executives, jurors have already heard at trial.
But the annual executive bonus was part of a 15-year payroll tax avoidance plan that extended to the top of the company, prosecutors are trying to prove.
Bonuses were required to be reported in their entirety to the company’s W-2 each year as taxable income. But that was not the case, prosecutors charged.
Instead, prosecutors have filed separate accounts from various Trump Organization subsidiaries, as if the officer had worked in the previous year as a freelancer or contractor for Trump International Golf Club’s Wollman Rink, Mar-a-Lago. Claimed to have received most of the yearly bonuses in checks. Palm Beach, Florida, or even Trump Productions, which produced “The Apprentice.”
That way, the company could have saved tax withholding and written off the check as a supplementary expense, prosecutors argued. During that time, management could claim checks as freelance income and keep some of that money in tax-exempt savings accounts available only to the self-employed.
For example, in 2015, the Trump Organization paid out $1.1 million in executive bonuses and a $300,000 bonus to Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, according to documents.
Of that amount, $100,000 was duly paid as compensation claimed on Weisselberg’s W-2 payslip for that year.
However, the $75,000 bonus was paid to him in a check from Wollman Rink. It’s as if his CFO, now 75, moonlighted at his famous Central Park skating rink that year.
The rest of his bonus was paid in checks of $50,000 from three different payers, as Weisselberg had done work for Palm Beach Golf Club, Mar-a-Lago, and “The Apprentice” in the previous year. .
At a stand last week, Weisselberg testified that these payments violated tax reporting requirements.
Careful records were kept inside Part of how the company’s bonuses were paid out is entitled “The Trump Organization’s Christmas Bonuses.”
Trump’s initials appear on some of these records. According to the documents, he personally approved the total amount of bonuses that executives including Weisselberg, company general counsel Jason Greenblatt, controller Jeffrey McConey and COO Matthew Calamari would receive each year.
But Trump’s initials are not in the spreadsheet detailing what prosecutors said were illegal parts of the plan.
Bender, who works for Mazar’s accounting firm, testified Tuesday that he had not seen these alleged heart attacks on the charts until Manhattan prosecutors showed them to him in 2021.
Had he seen these charts and understood the scope of the plot, he would have issued a warning to the jury under cross-examination by one of the lead prosecutors, Susan Hoffinger.
“I probably would have had a heart attack,” he said, apologizing for the exaggeration and implying that he was “extremely concerned,” possibly warning his company, Mothers. explained to be high.
accounting firm sever ties with Trump and the Trump Organization Earlier this year, he cited the company’s history of financial “discord.”
Defense witness Bender’s testimony could help the defense argue that Trump was also kept secret about subsidiaries paying executive bonuses as if they were outside compensation.
Trials are off for the rest of the week. Bender’s testimony and defense proceedings are likely to be completed on Monday, with closing arguments available on Tuesday.
Although Trump has not been personally named as a defendant in a criminal trial five weeks ago, his company faces charges of conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud, and falsehood in official records. You could face fines of up to $1.6 million.