WASHINGTON (AP) – The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to publicly release years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, which the former president has long tried to shield .
Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has kept a tight rein on the panel’s functions, including whether the panel will meet in public or private session. And if lawmakers go ahead with plans to issue the returns, it’s unclear how soon that would happen.
But after a year-long battle finally led to the Supreme Court last month clearing the way for the Treasury Department to send the returns to Congress, Democrats are under pressure to act aggressively. The committee obtained six years’ worth of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses. And with only two weeks left until Republicans formally take control of the House, Tuesday’s meeting could be the last opportunity for Democrats to reveal whatever information they’ve gathered.
Trump has long had a complicated relationship with his personal income taxes.
As a presidential candidate in 2016, he broke with a decades-old tradition by refusing to release his tax forms to the public. He bragged during a presidential debate that year that he was “smart” because he paid no federal taxes and later claimed that he would not personally benefit from the 2017 tax cuts he signed into law. Favored the super rich, told Americans to take the bus when they said so.
A tax record would have been a useful metric to judge his success in business. The image of a savvy businessman was key to a political brand honed during his years as tabloid magnet and star of “The Apprentice” television show. They could also reveal any financial obligations – including foreign debts – that might affect how they governed.
But Americans were largely in the dark about Trump’s relationship with the IRS until October 2018 and September 2020, when The New York Times published two separate series based on leaked tax records.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 articles show how Trump received the modern equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate holdings, much of the money the Times called “tax dozes” in the 1990s. Trump sued the Times and his niece Mary Trump in 2021 to make the records available to the newspaper. In November, Mary Trump asked an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision to dismiss her claims that her uncle and two of her siblings defrauded her of millions of dollars in a 2001 family settlement.
Accounts from 2020 show that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018. Trump paid no income tax at all in 10 of the last 15 years because he typically lost more money than he earned.
The articles exposed deep inequities in the US tax code because Trump, a reputed multi-billionaire, paid little in federal income taxes. IRS figures show that the average tax filer paid about $12,200 in 2017, which is about 16 times more than the former president paid.
Details about Trump’s income and debt level from foreign operations were also included in the tax filing, which the former president called “fake news.”
At the time of the 2020 articles, Neal said he saw an ethical problem in Trump overseeing a federal agency that he has also fought with legal filings.
Neill said in 2020, “Now, Donald Trump is the boss of the agency he adversaries.” “It is essential that the IRS presidential audit program remain free from interference.”
The office, led by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. at the time, subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm in 2019, seeking access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns and related documents.
The DA’s office issued the subpoenas after Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets. Those allegations are the subject of a fraud lawsuit filed in September by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump and his company.
Trump’s longtime accountant, Donald Bender, testified in the Trump Organization’s recent criminal trial that Trump reported losses on his tax returns every year for a decade, including nearly $700 million in 2009 and $200 million in 2010. Were.
Bender, a partner at Majors USA LLP who spent years preparing Trump’s personal tax returns, said Trump’s loss reports from 2009 to 2018 included the net operating losses of some of his many businesses through his Trump Organization. is included.
The Trump Organization was indicted earlier this month on tax fraud charges for helping some executives skimp on company-paid perks such as apartments and luxury cars.
The current Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, told The Associated Press in an interview last week that his office’s investigation into Trump and his businesses is ongoing.
“We’re going to follow the facts and continue to do our job,” Bragg said.
Trump, who refused to release his returns during the 2016 presidential campaign and claimed during his four years in the White House that he was under an IRS audit, has argued that little can be gleaned from tax returns. Even he has struggled to keep them. private.
“You can’t learn much from tax returns, but it’s illegal to release them if they’re not yours!” They complained on their social media networks last weekend.
Meanwhile, Republicans railed against the potential release, arguing that it would set a dangerous precedent.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, Republican leader of the Ways and Means Committee, accused Democrats of unleashing “a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond President Trump, and puts every American’s privacy at risk.” “
“Going forward, partisans in Congress have nearly unlimited power to target political enemies in order to obtain and make public their private tax returns and destroy them,” Brady said in a statement. This dangerous new political weapon is not to be unleashed on the American people.”
Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
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