President Donald Trump Comically Claimed His Tax Returns Are Unknowable

A day after an Election Day that saw the Republican Party lose ground in the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump presided over a wild press conference.

Now that the House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats, more and more attention is being paid to the fact that subpoena power is also controlled by the Democrats. In light of this, ABC News White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl brought up the subject of Trump’s tax returns again. 

In any case, the president said Wednesday that “[P]eople don’t understand tax returns.” And, as the New York Post noted, Trump is the first president in decades not to release his tax returns. Nor is there an IRS regulation preventing him from doing so.

[Law and Crime]

Trump on prospect of Dems demanding his tax returns: ‘They can do whatever they want’

President Trump on Monday downplayed the possibility that Democrats could demand his tax returns if they retake control of the House in Tuesday’s elections.

“I don’t care. They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want,” Trump said when asked if he was concerned Democrats may go after his tax returns if they win the majority.

Trump spoke to reporters upon arriving in Fort Wayne, Ind., for one of three campaign rallies he was set to hold on Monday. He suggested that a Democratic majority would force the White House to “have to work a little bit differently.”

“It’ll all work out but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Trump said, expressing confidence in Republicans’ chances on Tuesday. “I think we’re doing very well in the House. I think we’re doing very well in the Senate.”

Democrats and critics of the president have suggested that Trump’s tax returns could reveal potential conflicts of interest, and liberal groups have urged Democratic lawmakers to demand the president’s filings should they regain control of the House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last month that compelling Trump to turn over his tax returns would be “one of the first things we’d do” if Democrats win back the House majority.

Under federal tax law, the chairmen of congressional tax committees can request tax returns from the Treasury Department and review them in a closed session before voting to make all or parts of the returns public.

While Trump may protest such a request, the decision would ultimately fall to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin told The New York Times earlier this month that he would work with the department’s general counsel and the general counsel for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to address any requests should Democrats win the House.

The president broke with decades of precedent when he opted not to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The White House has repeatedly brushed off questions about releasing Trump’s taxes after the election, claiming the documents were under audit and therefore could not be made public. Financial experts, reporters and lawmakers have noted that the president could still request that they be released.

Calls for Trump to release his returns intensified following a New York Times report that cited records and interviews indicating the president engaged in “dubious” tax practices to shield income from his father’s real estate empire from taxes. Trump and the White House blasted the story, though they did not refute specific claims.

[The Hill]

Trump wants an extension for his 2017 tax return

President Donald Trump filed for an extension to submit his 2017 tax return, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.

“The President filed an extension for his 2017 tax return, as do many Americans with complex returns,” Sanders told reporters in Florida.

She also said Trump will file his return by the extension deadline of October 15.

Trump’s request for an extension isn’t atypical among high-income individuals, since paperwork for various investment structures and partnerships can slow down the preparation process.

For instance, Mitt Romney filed for an extension in 2012 for his 2011 tax return while running for president as a Republican. At the time, the Romney campaign said the extension request was “similar to what he has done in prior years.”

Trump’s taxes have come under scrutiny since the 2016 campaign since the then-candidate was the first presidential hopeful not to release tax returns in more than 40 years. Trump claimed at the time that since his returns were under audit by the IRS, they could not be released. Those returns are still not public, though some information was released, and it is unclear whether Trump is still under audit.

[Business Insider]

White House defends Trump claim tax plan will cost him ‘a fortune’

The White House defended President Trump’s assertion that the forthcoming tax reform bill will cost him a “fortune,” while admitting he could benefit from cuts to corporate taxes.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to repeated questions from reporters during Tuesday’s briefing about Trump’s assertion, which he made during a Nov. 29 speech in Missouri.

Sanders defended the president by arguing that he hasn’t been focused on himself, but instead on the impact the bill would have on everyday Americans.

“In some ways, particularly on the personal side, the president will likely take a big hit. But on the business side, he could benefit,” she said.

“The biggest focus for this White House is to makes sure all Americans are better off today when this tax package passes than they were before hand. We really focused on invigorating the middle class and making sure they get more of their hard-earned money.”

Multiple independent analyses show that Trump, whose net worth is pegged by Forbes at $3.1 billion, stands to benefit from GOP tax plan.

When reporters noted that the overall impact on Trump’s bottom line is unclear because he has not released his tax returns, Sanders said that Trump will not release his tax returns while they are under audit, which is the line that Trump took during the presidential campaign too. The IRS, however, has said an audit does not prevent an individual from releasing personal tax information.

Using information from a leaked portion of Trump’s tax returns from 2005, NBC News quoted a tax expert estimating that the combined estates of both Trump and first lady Melania Trump would save about $1 billion from the repeal of the estate tax. The expert also estimated that Trump would save $22.6 million thanks to the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, after capital gains taxes were taken into account. But without Trump’s most recent tax returns, or a more full glimpse at the 2005 return, the full impact couldn’t be nailed down.

The House passed the final version of the plan Tuesday afternoon, with the Senate expected to vote on the bill later that same day.

[The Hill]

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Invented a New Excuse For Why Trump Won’t Release His Taxes

During a press briefing this afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the still-lingering issue of President Donald Trump‘s refusal to make his tax returns public.

The Trump team has consistently countered critics by saying that since the president’s returns are being audited, he cannot release them publicly. NBC‘s Hallie Jackson picked up on this issue and posed the following question, “You said, on Tuesday, that as long as [President Trump’s] taxes are under audit, he’s not going to release them; his 2016 taxes–to our knowledge–are not under audit–unless they are.” To which Sanders replied:

The president’s taxes, no matter who the president is, actually immediately go under audit after being filed.

Sanders’ full excuse, therefore, is that President Trump still can’t release his taxes because they’re presently subject to an automatic audit.

Except that’s not really the case.

While it is true that presidential tax returns are automatically audited by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) since the time of President Richard Nixon, nothing about the automatic audit actually prevents presidential tax returns from being released.

In 2015, President Barack Obama released his tax returns to the American public (so did Vice-President Biden). Obama’s tax returns were subject to the same mandatory audit provision of the IRS manual, but he released them anyway.

And lest the MAGA set think we’re being unfair by comparing Trump to Obama’s time in office, that’s not all.

According to the Tax History Project, almost every single president since Nixon has released their tax returns for every single year they’ve been in office–and every president since Nixon has been subject to that same mandatory audit provision in the IRS manual. The only currently unavailable tax returns are one each from Presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter and all of those belonging to Gerald Ford–who only released summary data about tax years 1966-1975.

Nothing is stopping Trump from releasing his taxes–and to be clear, those returns will be under audit at least until he leaves the White House. But now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has indicated that the president intends on using a perpetual, legalistic excuse not to release them.

[Law and Crime]


Trump Lawyers: Tax Returns Show No Income from Russia “With Few Exceptions”

President Trump’s lawyers on Friday said that Trump’s last 10 years of tax returns do not reveal “any income of any type from Russian sources” with some exceptions but refused to release copies of his tax returns to verify.

The claim was made in a letter sent to Trump from his attorney at Morgan Lewis. The letter was obtained Friday but dated March 8, 2017. The letter was also sent to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated at Tuesday’s press briefing.

The letter says that “with a few exceptions,” Trump’s tax returns show no equity investment by Russians into Trump entities or any debt owed by Trump to lenders. Trump did receive income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire for $95 million.

he report sparked backlash online as many questioned the “with few exceptions” caveat and continued calls for Trump to release his tax returns.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a leader of Democratic efforts to release Trump’s tax returns, tweeted “exceptions?” following the report.

Congressional Democrats have repeatedly pushed the tax return issue in Congress. They’ve argued that it’s important to see Trump’s tax returns to learn about his potential ties to Russia and that lawmakers need to know how he would benefit from any tax-reform legislation.

Earlier this year, House Democrats offered resolutions for six consecutive weeks that would direct the House to request Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. In April, they started an effort to force a House floor vote on a bill to require presidents and presidential nominees to disclose their tax returns.

While a number of Republican lawmakers have said they want Trump to release his tax returns, most have been reluctant to join Democrats’ efforts on the topic. They’ve said that Trump should release his returns voluntarily and that it’s not against the law for Trump to keep them private.

The public last month also joined in calls for Trump to release his tax returns, with tens of thousands turning out for Tax Day protests across the U.S.

Earlier this week, Trump hinted he would not release his tax returns until after he left office.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Calls for Investigation Into Tax Day Protesters

President Donald Trump on Twitter Sunday lashed out against citizens who’d taken to the streets to exercise their First Amendment rights.

While claiming that thousands of people who on Saturday demanded Trump finally release his full tax returns were “paid” protesters, Trump tweeted, “The election is over!”

“Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies,” Trump tweeted a day after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 150 cities across the country.

An hour after wishing his 28 million followers a Happy Easter, Trump hailed his November win and called out those making his undisclosed tax history an issue.

“I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?” Trump said on Twitter.

The president then followed up by repeating an unsubstantiated claim he’s made before that some of the protesters against him were “paid,” an allegation that became popular in some right-wing circles in the build up to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump himself used paid actors to pose as rally attendees during his campaign.

The Tax Day protesters called for Trump to release his tax returns — something nearly all major presidential candidates have done since the 1970s — and call on lawmakers to represent their interests over those of major corporations.

Trump and his administration have repeatedly dismissed calls for him to release his taxes, first claiming he couldn’t because he was being audited, then saying the issue was more of interest to journalists and liberal politicians.

But a poll from the Pew Research Center in January found that more than two-thirds of all Americans believe the president has an obligation to release his tax returns.

This is not the first time the president has tweeted such accusations in the wake of major demonstrations against him and his policies. On Nov. 10, Trump tweeted that protests against his victory were “unfair” and said “professional protesters, incited by the media” were turning out in the streets.

And on Feb. 3, in the midst of major protests against Trump’s first executive order on immigration, the president tweeted that “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

(h/t NBC News)

It’s All But Official: Donald Trump Won’t Release His Tax Returns

The writing has been on the wall for months now, but Sunday seemed to make it official: Donald Trump will become the first presidential nominee since Gerald Ford to not release his tax returns during the campaign.

Both Trump’s vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, essentially confirmed during their respective interviews that no disclosure would be forthcoming.

“I think as soon as the audit is completed [he will make them public],” Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When host Chuck Todd mentioned that the most recent returns weren’t under audit, Pence didn’t blink.

“He will release all his tax returns when the final audit is completed,” Pence said.

Conway stuck to a similar script when discussing the tax returns during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

“Not until our accountants and our lawyers say that we should,” she said, when asked if they would be released before the election. “We’re under audit. But he has disclosed a 104-page financial disclosure form that is publicly available. Anybody can pull it up and I say that they should.”

Trump has been under constant pressure to make his tax returns public, both because not doing so would be a sharp break from prior practice and because there are a number of questions surrounding his finances and charitable giving. The latest questions were raised in a Washington Post article Saturday, which reported that, despite routine public boasting about his generosity, there was almost no evidence that Trump has given to charity since 2009.

Trump and his campaign have cited a rolling audit of his finances as the reason why he can’t disclose his tax returns. Though lawyers advise against putting out returns during an audit, they have also stressed that there is no legal prohibition from doing so.

Explanations aside, the decision to not make his returns public makes Trump especially guarded in the modern political era. Every major-party presidential nominee since Nixon has put out this information, save Ford, who released a summary when he ran in 1976. Hillary Clinton and her husband have put out returns every year since 1977. Even Pence put out 10 years of tax returns this cycle.

Trump is different. And while his campaign has argued that Clinton is secretive in other areas (they’ve demanded that she turn over all of her emails from her time as secretary of state, for example), it’s also true that Trump has now set a precedent of nondisclosure that future candidates can (and will) follow.

(h/t Huffington Post)


Trump had a contradictory position 4 years ago when he demanded Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.

As for the “audit” excuse, the fact remains that this rationale has never made any sense: an IRS audit doesn’t preclude someone from sharing their returns.

Since Watergate, every presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, has released his or her tax returns. It’s not required by law, but there’s a tradition of disclosure that Americans have come to count on during the presidential vetting process: candidates for the nation’s highest office are expected to release information related to their personal health and their tax filings.

Indeed even Richard Nixon, during his presidency, released his tax materials in the midst of an IRS audit. Trump could, if he wanted to, release these returns whenever he feels like it. For reasons he won’t explain, the GOP candidate just doesn’t want to.

If you remember the line once spoken by President Richard Nixon, “I am not a crook!” then you may not know it came in response to revelations that he had illicitly profited from his years in public service.

It’s as if the campaign has decided to wave a big, unmistakable sign that reads, “We have something to hide.”

In Debate, Trump Admits to Not Paying Federal Taxes

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said “of course” he used a $916 million loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal income taxes.

“Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?” moderator Anderson Cooper asked during Sunday’s presidential debate, referring to a New York Times report on Trump’s tax returns.

“Of course I do, of course I do,” Trump said.

The Republican nominee’s 1995 tax return showed him declaring a loss of more than $900 million—which he could have used to avoid paying federal income taxes for almost two decades.

Trump has yet to release his tax returns, bucking a decades-old presidential tradition and prompting suggestions that he could be “hiding something.” He has repeatedly said he will release them after the IRS completes a “routine audit,” but the audit does not prevent him from releasing the returns. Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, both released their tax returns in early August and have hit Trump over his failure to do the same. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, released a decade of his tax filings in September.

“I understand the tax code better than anybody that’s ever run for president,” Trump said during Sunday’s debate, criticizing Clinton for failing to reform tax code loopholes as a Senator. “It’s extremely complex.”

When asked, Trump declined to say for how many years he has avoided paying federal income taxes.

“I pay tax, and I pay federal tax too, but I have a write off. A lot of it’s depreciation, which is a wonderful charge,” Trump said. “I love depreciation.”

(h/t Fortune)



Donald Trump’s ‘Fiduciary Duty’ Tax Rate Excuse is Nonsense

There’s no evidence yet that Donald Trump violated any tax laws with his mammoth $916 million reported loss in 1995 when he paid no taxes. But the claim by Trump and his surrogates that he had a “fiduciary duty” to his family and investors to pay as little tax as possible is pretty silly.

Fiduciary duty, of course, applies to public company executives who have to maximize shareholder value by paying the lowest legal rate. But this has to do with corporate tax returns, the question raised by the New York Times is about his personal tax return, which are not the same thing.

(h/t Politico)


Either Donald Trump does not know there is a difference between personal and corporate tax filings, he doesn’t understand what the word “fiduciary” means, or he is banking on the idea that you don’t understand the different tax fillings by stringing together a nonsensical sentence.

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