The House Ways and Means Committee is poised to vote Tuesday on whether to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the public, ending a long legal and political battle and may explain why Trump has resisted releasing his tax returns for so long.

The Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, first sought to get Trump’s tax cuts six years into 2019, after Democrats won the most of the houses. They argued that Congress needs to do this to evaluate the effectiveness of the president’s annual audits and for audits.

Trump — who broke with decades of tradition among presidential and presidential candidates by refusing to release their tax returns to the public — mistakenly said during years but he could not release them while under “routine investigation” by the Internal Revenue Service.

The New York Times in 2020 reported that Trump paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016, when he won the presidency, and another $750 in 2017. The Times, which obtained data tax records for more than two decades, he also reported that he had not paid any money. tax in 10 of the 15 years before he ran for president.

At the time, a Trump spokesman disputed the accuracy of the Times report and said Trump had paid billions of dollars in “personal taxes” to the federal government, a vague phrase that the tax paid is not clear. Records obtained by the Times showed that Trump has reduced his taxes by using deficit spending to offset income, among other methods.

The announcements followed reports by The Washington Post and other organizations that showed Trump paid little or no federal taxes in the first year of his career. The Post wrote in its biography, “Trump Revealed,” that Trump did not pay income taxes in 1978 and 1979, using tax deductions such as the estate deduction that allowed him to claimed a negative income of $3.8 million.

When 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed out in a debate that Trump had not paid federal income taxes for two years, Trump responded, “It makes me that would be smart.” Then, when Clinton speculated that Trump might not have paid “federal income taxes for years” — which was the case — Trump said the government “wasted” the money.

This is why Congress can get Donald Trump’s tax returns

During his presidential campaign, where he often boasted that he was a very rich and successful tycoon, Trump said he would release his “handsome” tax returns to support his claims. But he said he would not make it public during his investigation.

The legal battle between Trump and the Ways and Means Committee played out in court for years, continuing even after Trump left office. But last month, the Supreme Court cleared the way for a Senate committee to review Trump’s tax returns, without giving reasons for denying Trump’s request to keep them. the records.

“We knew the strength of our case, we stayed the course, followed the advice of counsel, and ultimately, our case was upheld by the highest court in the land,” Neal said in a statement. “Since the Magna Carta, the principle of control has been upheld, and it is no different today. This is more than politics, and the Committee will now do the oversight that we have been seeking for the last three and a half years.

Trump and his Republican allies criticized the effort to get his refund as a partisan attack, and warned that Congress making the former president’s return public after he left office would violate the separation of powers. power.

However, federal judges have consistently ruled that the legislature established a “valid legal purpose” requiring disclosure. The Supreme Court’s decision late last month came after Trump announced he would seek re-election in 2024.

In arguing against releasing the tax records, Trump’s legal team said the committee’s basis for seeking the information had “nothing to do with financial or personnel issues at the IRS.” and all matters relating to the publication of tax information to the public.”

Their document added: “If allowed to stand, it would undermine the separation of powers and make the Presidency vulnerable to new demands from political opponents in the the legislative branch.”

Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee in favor of making Trump’s tax returns public have limited time to do so, with Republicans set to control the House — and the committee — in January.

Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

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