Democrats on the House Tax-Writing Committee could vote on Tuesday to release information on Donald Trump’s tax returns after winning a long legal battle with the former president last week in Democratic control of the lower house.
The House Ways and Means Committee announced a meeting for Tuesday afternoon on “documents protected under Internal Revenue Code section 6103,” the rule that allows Democrats to access the records. Trump’s taxes from the Treasury for the years 2015 to 2020.
The vote at that meeting to release a report to the broader Congress related to Trump’s tax information could open a new chapter in the history of Trump’s tax returns. , which has been a major source of frustration for Democrats during the Trump administration after decades of involvement in the president’s administration. by not sharing them when entering the office. It may also help to close the book on the matter once and for all.
Congressional experts said the content of such reports to Congress could vary.
“Does this report contain all the information available to the Ways and Means Committee?” Does it contain a piece of information, perhaps in summary form? ” Steve Rosenthal, an analyst at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said in an interview. “Or maybe [it just has] conclusion stating that the Ways and Means Committee has reviewed these tax papers and there is nothing to worry about. It can be a very short report and a summary document. “
But the canon of truth about the investigative reporting on Trump’s finances in the past year has raised high hopes for major revelations.
In 2020, the New York Times reported that Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and “has not paid any income tax in 10 years.” the previous 15 years – mostly because he reported losing more money than he made.
In 2016, the newspaper reported that Trump had a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax return, theoretically allowing him to avoid paying income taxes for nearly 20 years.
“To cover the $916 million in losses, Trump used other people’s money without paying his own debts or returning his tax deductions, as required by law. And the IRS never seemed to object,” Rosenthal wrote online on Monday.
There are doubts whether the documents provided to House Democrats go back far enough to provide a complete picture of Trump’s financial history and corroborate the extensive reports.
“It may be a case of too late,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t expect much, without a more thorough investigation.”
Political strategists say Democrats should use the opportunity to focus on transparency issues surrounding Trump’s business dealings, especially after one of Trump’s biggest companies was convicted of tax fraud. at the beginning of December and because of the consideration of the Committee of 6 Jan. a reference to the former president.
“This is not old news. Donald Trump is a presidential candidate again in 2024 in the Republican presidential election. So that’s news you can use, not old news to lose,” Democratic analyst Antjuan Seawright said in an interview.
“It should spark a conversation and spark a conversation and it should give some people a real reason to think, especially depending on what’s in it.” [the report]”, he added.
Republicans said over the weekend that Trump’s tax rollout would set a new and damaging precedent.
“Democratic Ways and Means is unleashing a dangerous new political weapon that goes far beyond President Trump, and threatens the lives of every American,” said Republican Ways and Means Leader Kevin Brady (R- Texas) in a statement on Saturday.
“Going forward, members of Congress have almost unlimited power to target political enemies by obtaining and publicly disclosing their own tax returns to embarrass and destroy them. It is not limited to government officials but may target private citizens, business leaders and employees and judges of the Supreme Court,” he said.
But after the midterm elections, in which many of Trump’s preferred candidates were defeated and his power in the Republican party was in doubt, the former president’s tax disclosure may not represent a serious threat. for Republicans last year.
Instead, Republicans’ disapproval could pave the way for their own investigation that could result in the tax cuts they want when they take over the House in January. .
“If you back off, maybe Trump won’t run for office again.” Why do Republicans care?” said Steve Rosenthal. “Ways and ways Republicans can come out and say, ‘You guys started this. This is the dualism.’ And so they’re going to ask for the tax return information on Hunter Biden and Joe Biden and whoever they want to embarrass.
Allegations of political retaliation by the US tax administration are nothing new.
More recently, the special surveillance of former top FBI officials who have become political enemies of Trump in the investigation into his ties to Russia has raised alarm bells for the Democrats before the Treasury Inspector General cleared the IRS of wrongdoing.
Similarly, Republicans have accused the IRS of targeting tax-exempt status to conservative political groups during the Obama administration.
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee could also decide not to release anything from a potential report to Congress.
In that case, the Senate Finance Committee, which will remain under Democratic control in January, may take over the investigation.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) expressed interest in continuing the investigation after the Justice Department sided with the Ways and Means Committee on 2021, and said the committee has the right to review Trump’s tax returns.
“The Department of Justice has confirmed that Secretary Mnuchin acted outside the law by refusing to respond to congressional requests for Donald Trump’s tax returns,” Wyden told the announcement in 2021, referring to Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “In light of this decision, I will consult with the Ways and Means Committee and consider the next steps of the Finance Committee.”
Ways and Means Democrats have been seeking Trump’s tax returns since he won the House in 2018, saying they need them from the IRS to oversee the audit program. -eyes of the federal president.
“The IRS has a policy of auditing the tax returns of all vice presidents and vice presidents,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in 2019. his role.”
Regardless of the extent of the disclosure of Trump’s personal tax returns, experts say his case points to broader problems in the U.S. tax system and how complexities can be exploited by bad faith.
“In order for the voluntary tax system to remain stable, we rely on taxpayers not to play ‘hide-and-seek,’ or as Trump has done, treat taxes like a sport.” Trump once said that’s how he sees it,” Steve Rosenthal said. “The system will collapse if the taxpayers play it and succeed.”