Steven Mnuchin may have gone against IRS warnings to help a friend get a major tax break

Tim O'Donnell

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may have used his position to help a billionaire friend earn a significant tax break and subsequent profits, despite the Internal Revenue Service warning against it, The New York Times reports.

The Treasury Department, reportedly at the personal instruction of Mnuchin, made an area of land in Nevada owned by financier Michael Milken, who was reportedly an inspiration for the character of Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, eligible for a federal tax break that it did not previously qualify for after alleged pressure from Milken's business partner and other landowners.

The IRS expressed its doubts about the decision, arguing in an internal memo obtained by the Times that "failure to apply the designation standards equally across the board will call into question the legitimacy of the process by which the designations were made." The memo also stated that the appearance of "arbitrary" Treasury standards like this one could open the "door for accusations that the determination process was influenced by political considerations or bias."

Spokespersons for both Mnuchin and Milken, who are reportedly longtime friends, said the two men did not discuss the matter and Mnuchin had no knowledge of Milken's investments in Nevada. Regardless, the report has already spurred criticism. Read more at The New York Times.




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