WASHINGTON – As a 2016 presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump joked that the release of his tax returns was imminent, pointing to the size and complexity of his wealth as a reason for him to ditch the rules. – traditional to this day for not releasing his information. .

“I have a lot to come back to, as you know, and I have everything that I believe in and it’s very beautiful and we’ll do it next time,” Mr. Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” at that time. , adding, “This is not like a regular tax return.”

The tax returns were never filed. Over the next seven years, Mr. Trump first blamed the Internal Revenue Service for refusing to make his returns public and then, as president, did a long legal battle with House Democrats who sought to force their release.

Data from years of tax returns obtained by The New York Times showed that Mr. Trump paid very little in taxes over the years and shed light on the financial struggles of his estate, yet it remains covered up. ‘the privacy of the field of his tax history.

That could change this week. On Tuesday, the Constitution Committee will vote to decide whether six years of the former president’s tax returns will be made public. That move comes after the Supreme Court last month refused to block the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, from releasing returns to Congress. The decision cleared the way to move returns from the IRS to the Ways and Means Committee.

Now, days before they hand over control of the House to the Republicans, Democrats must decide exactly what to do with the documents.

The official release of Mr. Trump’s tax records represents both important transparency and what some fear is the end of an era of taxpayer secrecy. It will also raise questions about whether, in this case, Democrats on the House committee have created a reason to use their power as a political weapon against the opposition.

“If they were to be disclosed, it seems to me that they should have a good reason why it’s in the public interest,” said John Koskinen, who served as IRS commissioner in the Obama and Trump administrations. “That’s a dangerous claim.”

Presidents are not required by law to release their tax returns, but for decades they have done so voluntarily to show the American people that they have nothing to hide.

For years, Democrats have sought access to Mr. Trump’s returns, using various justifications for why lawmakers should be allowed to see private financial data. In 2017, when House Democrats were in the minority, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, asked his Republican colleagues to seek their release so the American people could better understand the relationship. Mr. Trump finances foreign governments and the potential for conflicts of interest. . Republican lawmakers refused to follow suit.

When Democrats took control of the House in 2019, they made Mr. Trump’s comeback a top priority. They relied on a century-old provision in the tax code that gives congressional tax committees the power to review private tax returns.

To prove there was a “legitimate legal purpose” for the request, House Democrats sought the returns as part of an investigation into the effectiveness of a rule that requires the IRS to audit returns. all presidential taxes. Mr. Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven T. Mnuchin, refused to turn over the tax bill and warned that the Democrats’ demands could come back to haunt them if the Republicans decided to use the tools. fight the IRS one day.

House Republicans are expected to hold that debate on Tuesday as they try to persuade Democrats not to release Mr. Trump.

“Democratic methods and methods are unleashing a dangerous new political weapon that goes far beyond President Trump and threatens the lives of every American,” said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the committee. way and way, said the statement. “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.”

He added: “It is not limited to government officials, but it can target private citizens, businessmen and employees, and judges of the Supreme Court.”

If the legislators argue about the release of the information, it is expected that the Republicans that the Democrats used the control to hide their real desire to announce the return to the political interests and oppose that the assessment of the process of the review of the president does not require discarding the documents of Mr. Trump.

But Democrats are expected to counter that the tax documents are essential to their review of the effectiveness of the IRS audit program that automatically reviews the tax returns of the president-elect and vice President.

They have since maintained that their search for Mr. Trump’s tax returns was not an attempt to discredit the former president. The rush to introduce them before Republicans retake control of the House next year, they say, is a result of years of Mr. Trump’s impasse.

“This is rising because of politics, and now the committee is going to do the oversight that we have been seeking for the last three and a half years,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the committee, after the Supreme Court allowed . last month’s release.

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday afternoon and is expected to vote on whether to release data from Mr. Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 and possibly share the documents. It’s unclear what information will be gleaned, though Democrats and tax experts will pore over the returns to determine what kind of strategies Mr. Trump used to lower his tax bill and whether he benefited from ‘the tax policy that he proposed as president.

Days after Republicans passed $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in 2017, Mr. Trump told wealthy friends at his Palm Beach, Fla., resort, “You’ve got a lot of money. all.”

Tax returns could shed light on whether Mr. Trump did the same.

There is no precedent for Congress to use its authority to release information about taxpayers.

A subcommittee on taxation has released a bipartisan staff report describing and analyzing President Richard M. Nixon’s 1974 tax returns, based on data it previously requested under section 6103, part of the tax code that states when and how to release information about taxpayers. from the IRS

Republicans have also used their power to unlock the tax records. In 2014, House Republicans led by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, voted to release classified tax information to prompt the Justice Department to investigate the they allege that IRS officials discriminated against conservative groups in deciding who. organization to watch.

George K. Yin, a professor of tax law emeritus at the University of Virginia, said it should be a high priority for Congress to get Mr. Trump’s tax returns and even higher to release them. those. He worries that if the release of the documents is considered political, a tit-for-tat scenario could arise.

“This is the end of tax secrecy for me,” said Mr. Yin. “In reality, no one’s tax information is really protected, if you cross certain interests that happen to be in power at a particular time, we are all vulnerable.”



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