Why Democrats released Trump’s tax returns
BY TOBIAS BURNS – 12/23/22 6:00 AM ET
After years of fighting for Donald Trump’s tax returns, Democrats finally got a hold of them and released them to the public through two congressional reports published this week. But Democrats stress their decision was not about Trump himself but rather about oversight of the IRS and about the U.S. tax system more broadly — even though Trump was the first president since Watergate not to release his returns before assuming the presidency.
The report from the Democratic-led Ways and Means Committee found Trump wasn’t audited during his first two years in office. His first audit as president came only right when the IRS was asked directly by Congress to produce Trump’s tax returns.
That could be a violation of IRS policy, which states that “individual income tax returns for the President and Vice President will be subject to mandatory audit examination” and that they’ll receive “normal pipeline processing” and be subject to “regular filing and retention procedures.”
“The IRS has failed to administer its own mandatory audit program policies,” Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said Thursday in the House, introducing legislation that bumps the presidential audit program up from the level of IRS policy to the level of federal law.
Democrats are mad the presidential audit program was ‘dormant’
“After years of stonewalling and litigation ending at the Supreme Court, the Committee found that, for all practical purposes, the mandatory audit program was dormant. It wasn’t just functioning poorly — it was not functioning at all,” Neal said.
Neal’s legislation, which passed the House on Thursday, would give the Treasury three months to produce a report on a sitting president’s tax returns, which are required by law to be filed every year.
The bill also makes a president’s tax returns public along with those of any businesses they own.
“This has never been about one person, this has been about the office of the presidency,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said Tuesday after the vote to release Trump’s returns.