The release of former President Donald J. Trump’s private tax returns raises questions about why the Internal Revenue Service failed to fully audit him during his presidency.
House Democrats on Friday made public six years of former President Donald J. Trump tax returns, ending years of legal wrangling and speculation about Mr. Trump’s wealth and financial entanglements.
The announcement comes just ten days after Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee issued two reports on Mr. Trump’s taxes as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s practice of performing obligatory audits on presidents while they are in office.
IRS failed to audit Mr. Trump during his first two years
According to the allegations, the IRS failed to audit Mr. Trump during his first two years in office and did not begin the review process until 2019, when House Democrats launched oversight procedures to obtain access to his tax information.
Our findings were simple – the IRS did not commence its mandatory audit of the former president until I made my initial request to Massachusetts Representative Richard E. Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
While much of the information contained in the tax returns has already been made public, including in two reports released last week, the full records from 2015 to 2020 are expected to provide a rare glimpse into the complexities of Mr. Trump’s finances, and whether he profited from tax policies, he signed into law as president.
Among them are the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which included many tax perks and cuts for businesses and the rich. According to records disclosed last week, Mr. Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes during his first three years in office but paid no tax in 2020 as his income fell and losses grew.
Mr. Trump paid $750 in federal income tax and reported $12.9 million in losses during his first year as president.
The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found red flags in Mr. Trump’s tax returns that deserved additional study. These included transactions with his children and a deduction relating to Trump University fraud charges.
Mr. Trump said Friday that Democrats weaponized the decision to disclose the returns. The Trump tax returns illustrate how gloriously successful I’ve been and how I’ve used depreciation and other tax deductions to create thousands of jobs and spectacular structures and enterprises, he wrote.
Tax returns are confidential papers in the US. Congress
Tax returns are confidential papers in the US. Congress can get them, but it rarely does. Democratic lawmakers wanted Mr. Trump’s tax returns out of concern for potential conflicts of interest after he broke with the convention and refused to release them.
Using their supervision powers, they were able to unlock them through an IRS audit policy inquiry. The New York Times obtained more than two decades of Mr. Trump’s tax returns in 2020 and followed his financial history: dubious tax avoidance, enormous losses, and inherited riches.
The new tax returns suggest that tendency continued in Washington. The Ways and Means Committee investigations also showed how outgunned the IRS was against Mr. Trump’s army of lawyers, accountants, and tax professionals recruited to defend him in audits of his returns before, during, and after his presidency.
With 400 flow-through returns on Form 1040, it’s impossible to analyze all potential issues, IRS agents stated in a document released last week. Republicans cautioned that disclosing a single individual’s tax returns would create a dangerous precedent and compel GOP members to reveal other tax returns when they win control of the House.
In a closed-door hearing last week before the party-line decision to reveal Mr. Trump’s returns, Republicans discussed the potential of disclosing President Biden’s family tax information, including Hunter Biden.
Future chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have nearly unlimited power to target and release tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business and labor leaders, or even Supreme Court justices, said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas.
This is a stain on the Ways and Means Committee and Congress, said Brady, and will divide and depress American politics. Democrats will regret it.
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