A House committee released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, the culmination of years of legal wrangling and speculation about what the return might contain.
The House Ways and Means Committee had voted to release the thousands of pages of statements in a party-line vote last week, but their release was delayed as staff redacted sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers from the documents. .
The panel’s top Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, called the release of the documents «unprecedented» and said it would «jeopardize the right of all Americans to be protected from political attacks by Congress.»
in a video statement Last Friday, Trump called the planned release “an outrageous abuse of power” and falsely claimed that Democrats had “illegally obtained and leaked my personal tax returns, which only show that I have had tremendous success.”
Some of the profits also came from Trump’s businesses. A 39 page report The Joint Committee on Taxation report released last week included summaries of Trump’s personal and business entity tax forms, showing he has been paying relatively little tax.
For example, in 2020, Trump appeared to owe nothing in taxes, the report showed. That was thanks to Trump claiming $15 million in business losses, resulting in him having a negative $4 million in adjusted gross income. Trump later claimed a $5 million refund.
Trump reported millions in negative income in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020, and paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
In 2019, Trump and his wife, Melania, reported significant losses of more than $16.4 million, but reported a total income of $4.4 million.
The committee’s report also listed several general issues that it believed the IRS should have investigated. For example, Trump claimed large cash donations to charities, but the report says the IRS did not verify them. The report also said that while Trump’s tax returns were large and complicated, the IRS does not appear to have assigned experts to work on them.
The Ways and Means Committee separately released a 29-page report summarizing its investigation into an IRS policy requiring audits of returns filed by presidents and vice presidents. The committee found that the IRS had largely failed to follow its own internal requirements, and began examining Trump’s returns only after the House panel inquired into the process. Only a year of Trump’s returns was officially selected for mandatory review while he was in office, and that audit of Trump’s 2016 taxes was not complete when he left the White House, according to the report.
An audit of Trump’s 2015 taxes was launched shortly before the 2016 audit in 2019, the same day the Ways and Means committee requested information on the mandatory audits. Neither the 2015 audit nor the 2017-19 audits of Trump’s taxes that began after he left office were marked as part of the audit program and, as of last month, neither had been marked complete, the committee said. .
The committee obtained Trump’s tax returns in November, following a yearlong court fight over documents that other presidents have routinely released since the 1970s.
The dispute ended in the Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s last-minute request to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats in a brief order issued just before Thanksgiving.
Trump’s refusal to release his statements sparked a wave of suspicions about what he might be trying to hide: foreign business dealings, a smaller fortune than he had publicly claimed, or paying less in taxes than the average American.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump maintained that his statements could not be released because they were under audit and that he would make them public when they were ready, a promise he backed away from after taking office.
Information about his taxes has leaked over the years.
In October 2016, The New York Times published some of Trump’s statements. 1995 state taxes and reported that it had declared a loss of $916 million that year. Three tax experts hired by the newspaper said the size of the loss and the tax rules governing wealthy taxpayers at the time could have allowed Trump to legally not pay federal income taxes for 18 years.
After Trump took office in 2017, reporter David Cay Johnston went on MSNBC’s «The Rachel Maddow Show» with what he said were two pages from Trump’s 2005 Form 1040.
The documents, which were posted on Johnston’s site DCReport.orgit showed that Trump had paid $38 million in federal income taxes on more than $150 million in income.
In September 2020, the Times reported that it had obtained two decades of Trump tax information, which showed that it had not paid any income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years, mainly because it reported significant losses. In the year he won the presidency and his first year in office, he paid just $750 in federal income taxes, the newspaper found.
When asked about the report at the time, the then-president said the story was «made up» and that he «paid a lot of money in state taxes.» He later tweeted that he had «paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation and tax credits.»
Trump also fought unsuccessfully to keep his tax information out of the hands of investigators in New York who were looking into his business practices. That standoff also went all the way to the Supreme Court, which denied Trump’s attempt to block a grand jury from obtaining Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns in February of last year.
Those statements helped prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office build a tax fraud case against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization. The company was convicted this month of running a 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors say was orchestrated by top company executives.
During the trial, Trump’s accountant, Donald Bender, testified that the former president had losses totaling $900 million in 2009 and 2010.
The company is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13. Trump, who was not charged in the case, has dismissed the allegations and conviction as part of a politically motivated «witch hunt.»