Six years after Donald Trump should have disclosed his tax returns to the public, they have finally been released. This took advocacy, congressional action, and litigation that went to the Supreme Court—all to obtain basic financial transparency from a president.
But the House Ways and Means Committee’s report on its investigation, released last week in conjunction with the committee’s vote to disclose Trump’s tax returns, revealed new information that may be as astonishing as anything in the returns themselves: The IRS did not even begin auditing Trump’s taxes until 2019, on the same day the committee began asking the agency about them. This is outrageous, and it must be investigated.
Getting Trump’s tax returns should not have been this hard. Every president elected since Richard Nixon—with the exception of Trump—has publicly disclosed his tax returns. Tax returns can tell the American people, and Congress, whether a president is following the law and behaving honestly. Crucially for Trump, who uniquely and inappropriately retained ownership of a massive international business while president, they can provide information about conflicts of interest that may have swayed his decision making.
Examining Trump’s tax returns and discovering all they can reveal about how his finances may have intersected with his presidency will take time. The committee released an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation stating that Trump had paid nothing, or close to it, in some years of his presidency. The income information included in that analysis also seems to support the assertion that Trump’s use of the presidency to steer business to himself from the government and those seeking to influence it may have reversed years of financial losses for Trump’s companies and led to hefty profits in 2018 and 2019, until COVID’s arrival in 2020 reversed his fortunes again. Now that the detailed returns are available, we’ll learn much more about those companies’ earnings, losses, and tax payments, and about Trump’s financial interests. [Continue reading…]