UPDATE, DEC 31:
Two initial revelations from Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020….
1. Trump lied about his bank account in China, raising questions about whether there was a conflict of interest.
During a 2020 Presidential debate, Trump said he closed the bank account before he began his campaign for the Presidency in June 2015:
The bank account was in 2013. It was closed in 2015, I believe. I was thinking about doing a deal in China. Like millions of other people, I was thinking about it. I decided not to do it.
In the tax returns for 2015, 2016, and 2017, Trump reported a bank account in China.
The returns do not detail the amount of money held in the account.
2. Trump may have broken his pledge to donate his annual Presidential salary of $400,000 to charity.
In 2017, Trump reported charitable donations of $1.8 million. In both 2018 and 2019, he reported about $500,000. But in 2020, he reported no donations at all.
An extract from my chat this morning with LBC’s Andrew Castle about the significance of the tax returns….
Professor Scott Lucas explains how Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns begs the question of 'whether there's anything in the returns that indicates civil or even criminal liability'.@AndrewCastle63 | @ScottLucas_EA pic.twitter.com/MzsGpDwE6H
— LBC (@LBC) December 31, 2022
UPDATE, DEC 30:
The House Ways and Means Committee has released Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020.
The Committee sought the returns in connection with its inquiry into the Internal Revenue Service’s mandatory audits of sitting Presidents. It found the IRS did not audit from 2017 to 2019, and that its examination of Trump’s tax matters while he was President is still not complete.
Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal, Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a statement accompanying the release:
We anticipated the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] would expand the mandatory audit program to account for the complex nature of the former President’s financial situation yet found no evidence of that. This is a major failure of the IRS under the prior administration, and certainly not what we had hope to find.
But the evidence is clear. Congress must step in. I’ve proposed legislation to put the program above reproach. Ensuring IRS conducts yearly, timely examinations while publicly disclosing certain information.
Our work has always been to ensure our tax laws are administered fairly and without preference, because at times, even the power of a president can loom too large.
UPDATE, DEC 21:
The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to release Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Democrats said it might be several days before the thousands of pages, concerning Trump and several associated businesses from 2015 to 2020, became public as they redact sensitive details.
The Committee is assessing the Internal Revenue Service’s mandatory Presidential audit program, instituted in the late 1970s after a scandal over former President Richard Nixon’s taxes. In an early takeaway from its findings, the Committee said the Internal Revenue Service did not uphold the requirement, failing to review Trump’s taxes during his first two years in office.
Trump filed a return in 2017 for the two previous tax years, but the IRS only began an audit in April 2019 — on the same day
that the Committee requested access to Trump’s tax information and any associated audits.
From 2018 to November 2022, the IRS was headed by Trump appointee Charles Rettig, a tax lawyer. In 2016, Rettig wrote a magazine column defending Trump’s decision not to release his taxes as a Presidential candidate.
The IRS has yet to complete its review. The agency only started an audit of Trump’s filings while President after he left the White House.
A Committee summary of the documents confirms that in 2018, Mr. Trump had positive taxable income for the first time in more than a decade. He sold properties or investments with a profit of $22 million, and exhausted business losses gthat he had been rolling over year after year. As a result, he paid $999,466 in federal income taxes for 2018.
But Trump soon returned to his long-term pattern of reporting negative income, and he paid no federal income taxes for 2020.
Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts said after Tuesday’s vote, “This was not about being punitive. This was not about being malicious. And there were no leaks from the committee. We adhered carefully to the law.”
Republicans, who will have a majority on the Committee from January, continued to cover for Trump. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas complained, “So regrettably, the deed is done. What was clear today is that public disclosure of President Trump’s private tax returns has nothing to do with the stated purpose of reviewing the IRS presidential audit process.”
UPDATE, DEC 1:
The House Ways and Means Committee finally has six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns.
“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a spokesperson said on Wednesday.
An aide to Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal said the panel will meet Thursday for a briefing on the legal position around the documents.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, NOV 23:
The Supreme Court has ordered Donald Trump to hand over his tax returns to a House committee.
In a brief, unsigned order, the Court ended 3 1/2 years of obstruction by Trump. The US Treasury may now turn over six years of tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, which is reviewing oversight of a President’s tax and business affairs.
Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal welcomed “the oversight that we’ve sought” but did not say if any of the returns will be published.
Trump almost succeeded in running out the clock on the House’s demand with his legal maneuvers. Republicans take control of the chamber in January with a narrow majority. With Trumpists — including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — in charge, the demand would likely have been dropped.
Trump’s lawyers had called on the Supreme Court to extend a lower court’s stay which gave them more time to pursue an appeal. Douglas Letter, the chief lawyer for the House, countered that further delay “would leave the committee and Congress as a whole little or no time to complete their legislative work”.
The House committee’s hearings began in 2019. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump had likely committed fraud by inflating the value of assets when applying for loans and undervaluing them to reduce his tax liability.
The Trump Organization is on trial in New York State, accused of tax fraud and other financial crimes. The New York State Attorney General is pursuing civil damages and penalties against Trump and his children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr.
In 2020, The New York Times obtained some of Trump’s tax returns. The documents established that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years through avoidance. A $72.9 million tax refund was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.