“Show us the tax returns” has been a rallying cry for some people since before President Wet Brains entered office. The appeal is understandable—a huge amount of Trump’s credibility, such as it is, is derived from his supposed wealth. There’s also a very real the possibility that Trump’s tax returns could provide evidence of criminal activity. Not long ago, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that the president likes to inflate and deflate his own income when it suits him.
Finally, after years of speculation, it looks like the Democrats who now control the House are finally using their newfound power to try to force the administration to make Trump’s returns public.
Yesterday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal formally requested to see six years of Trump’s personal tax returns and returns from some of his businesses, according to Politico. To legally justify the request, Neal cited a nearly century-old law that allows the committee chair to see anyone’s confidential tax filings.
Aside from Trump’s personal returns, Neal is demanding the president’s filings for eight other entities, including a trust and his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. The Ways and Means committee says five of those entities represent the “core of the president’s business empire.”
Neal also wants details of any IRS audits of Trump, saying he wants to know “the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a president.”
“It is critical to ensure the accountability of our government and elected officials,” Neal told Politico. “To maintain trust in our democracy, the American people must be assured that their government is operating properly, as laws intend.”
Some Democrats want an even broader examination of Trump’s finances, going back a decade, from both his personal and business filings. The House is pushing other legislation going after this goal, which would then require that level of transparency from all presidents and presidential candidates going forward. But it’s possible that the IRS doesn’t even have some of these old returns—they generally dump old paperwork after six years, unless the taxpayer is under audit.
Trump, obviously, will not be going along with any of this if he has the choice.
The Washington Post reported that Trump is prepared to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent the returns from being released, and that the Treasury Department will not be voluntarily handing anything over.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump used his now-familiar excuse that he is under audit, even though people have said over and over again that this is not a barrier to tax returns being released.
“We are under audit, despite what people said, and working that out — I’m always under audit, it seems, but I’ve been under audit for many years because the numbers are big, and I guess when you have a name, you’re audited,” Trump said. “But until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do it.”