The House Ways and Means Committee voted to publicly release its investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) mandatory audit program after finding it was dormant, at best, with only one audit opened while former President Donald Trump was in office, and none have been completed.
The documents revealed that the 2020 election loser paid nothing in tax in 2020, $558,000 in tax in 2019, $5.3 million in tax in 2018 and nothing again in 2017.
“Donald Trump’s tax returns exemplify the shortcomings of our tax code,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden. “These are issues much bigger than Donald Trump. Trump’s returns likely look similar to those of many other wealthy tax cheats — hundreds of partnership interests, highly-questionable deductions, and debts that can be shifted around to wipe out tax liabilities.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. said Trump’s business and personal tax records were obtained pursuant to a legal request that was stymied by Trump and obstructed in the courts for 1,329 days.
Although Trump promised to release the returns during his campaign, he repeatedly refused to release his tax return information throughout his presidency, the first major-party U.S. presidential candidate or president since 1976 to do so.
Trump had repeatedly and falsely claimed that he could not release the returns because they were being audited by the IRS but he was not audited even after his presidency triggered a requirement in place since 1977 that the agency conduct a review.
“Today our committee voted to uphold sunlight and democracy,” said Pascrell. “For six long years we fought to release these documents because Americans deserve to know if their chief executive is compromised. But today’s victory is bigger than one crooked man or party. This is a triumph for idea that no one person is above the law.”
Sixteen Republicans voted against releasing the six years of personal returns filed by the former President as well as returns for eight of Trump’s businesses that were collected as part of an investigation into the presidential audit program at the IRS.
“I categorically reject Republicans’ bad faith attacks on our action today,” said Pascrell. “The only abuse of Section 6103 comes from Republicans themselves. Back in 2014, Committee Republicans voted to make public the private tax information of 51 taxpayers as part of a Republican witch hunt. Republicans’ lies and hypocrisies know no bounds. Republicans’ threats to use the tax code against their political enemies next year is repugnant and shows that the GOP can’t be trusted to administer our tax laws fairly.”
Trump and the Justice Department relentlessly fought subpoenas from congressional and New York State investigators seeking his taxes and other financial records. Under the Revenue Act of 1924, enacted in response to the Teapot Dome scandal, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to obtain tax records of any taxpayer.
Reports from the Ways and Means Committee about the IRS’s presidential audit program as well as from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on the content of the tax returns have already been released.
The congressional panel found IRS officials disregarded a requirement dating back to 1977 that mandates audits of a president’s tax filings to pursue mandatory audits of Trump on a timely basis during his presidency, a, raising questions about statements by the former president and leading members of his administration who claimed he could not release his tax filings because of the ongoing reviews.
The IRS failed to pursue mandatory audits of Trump on a timely basis during his presidency.
The IRS only began to audit Trump’s 2016 tax filings on April 3, 2019, more than two years into Trump’s presidency and just months after Democrats took control of the House.
That date coincides with Rep. Richard Neal, the panel chairman, asking the IRS for information related to Trump’s tax returns.
A report released by the Democratic majority on the House Ways and Means Committee indicated the Trump administration might have engaged in misconduct or possibly improper political interference with the IRS.
The IRS didn’t begin to audit Trump’s 2016 tax filings until April 3, 2019, more than two years into Trump’s presidency and just months after Democrats took control of the House. That date coincided with panel Chairman Richard Neal’s request to the IRS for information related to Trump’s tax returns.
There was no suggestion that Trump, who has announced a third presidential run, sought to directly influence the IRS or discourage the agency from reviewing his tax information. But the report found that the audit process was “dormant, at best.”
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