Six years of former President Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, long shrouded in secrecy, were released Friday by the House Ways and Means Committee, the culmination of a battle over their disclosure that went to the Supreme Court .
The returns — covering the years 2015 through 2020 — were won by the Democratic-led committee only weeks ago after a lengthy legal battle. The committee voted last week to release the tax returns, but their release was delayed to redact sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers.
CNN is currently reviewing the tax returns.
The release of the tax returns follows a years-long search for documents that had typically been made public voluntarily by former US presidents. Trump and his legal team have continually sought to keep his statements secret, arguing that Congress has never exercised its legislative powers to compel a president’s tax returns, which Trump says could have far-reaching implications.
Trump released a campaign video Friday in response to the decision to release his tax returns, calling the move an “outrageous abuse of power” and “completely unconstitutional.”
“There is no legitimate legislative purpose for their action. And if you look at what they did, it’s so sad for our country,” Trump said. “This is nothing but another deranged political witch hunt that has been going on since the day I stepped off an escalator in Trump Tower.”
Other Republicans have also criticized Democrats’ efforts to pursue tax returns as political, with Texas Rep. Kevin Brady – the committee’s top conservative – saying a release would amount to “a dangerous new political weapon that goes far beyond the former president and reverses decades”. privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reform.
The committee, which is responsible for overseeing the IRS and writing tax policy, requested the returns under Section 6103 of the US tax code. Their report focused on whether Trump’s tax returns while in office had been properly audited under the IRS’ mandatory audit program for US presidents.
The committee found that the IRS opened only one “mandatory” audit during Trump’s tenure – for his 2016 tax return. And that didn’t happen until the fall of 2019, after that President Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, sent a letter asking the IRS for Trump’s tax returns and information for the first time. The report describes the presidential audit program as “dormant”.
Last week, the House passed a bill that would reform the presidential audit process in a largely symbolic vote before Republicans take a majority in the new Congress. Legislation should not be considered by the Senate until the new Congress is sworn in.
The committee’s report included an analysis of the numbers from each of the six Trump tax returns by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. Among the JCT’s findings, the then-president paid very little federal income tax in 2017 — just $750 — and nothing in 2020. The report also showed Trump paid $1.1 million federal income tax in 2018 and 2019, a stark contrast to the $750 he paid in 2017 and $0 in 2020.
For many years before he ran for president, a New York Times investigation showed that Trump had claimed huge net operating losses that he was allowed to carry forward and apply to future tax years. who has significantly reduced or simply eliminated his annual income tax. responsibility.
For example, the JCT report noted that Trump carried forward $105 million in losses on his 2015 return, $73 million in 2016, $45 million in 2017, and $23 million in 2018.
The JCT report also raises questions about the accuracy of some huge charitable deductions claimed by Trump on several of Trump’s tax returns. Deductions can reduce the amount of income tax owing.
Although recently released tax returns do not indicate Trump’s net worth or the extent of his financial dealings, they may offer a window into his company’s profits and losses, whether or not he has bank accounts. abroad or paid taxes to foreigners. Governments.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.