Dems Dump Trump Tax Data In Tuesday Night Release
Update (2020ET): Hours after they voted to release Trump's tax returns, House Democrats released a report which includes the data from Trump's taxes.
You can read the report below as we are currently doing, however upon first read - and the fact that it was quietly released on a Tuesday night instead of via a Washington Post bombshell detailing specific 'evil things' Trump's done, we are going to - for now, assume this is a giant nothingburger.
In a coordinated response to the release, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there is an "urgent need for legislation to ensure the public can trust in real accountability and transparency during the audit of a sitting president’s tax returns – not only in the case of President Trump, but for any president," adding "we will move swiftly to advance Chairman Richard Neal’s legislation requiring the Internal Revenue Service to conduct an annual audit of the President’s finances."
In their closing observations, Democrats suggested that the IRS did not sufficiently audit Trump, and that high net worth individuals who use lawyers and accounting firms should be subject to enhanced actions.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, warned in a press conference, "Longstanding privacy protections for all taxpayers have been compromised. Going forward, the majority chairman in the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have nearly unlimited power to target or make public the tax returns of private citizens—and not just private citizens: political enemies, business and labor leaders or even the returns of Supreme Court justices themselves."
So what’s the legislative endgame?@RepRichardNeal’s W&M report recommends codifying the audit program into law and requiring public disclosure of presidential tax returns. pic.twitter.com/UB6Pgdtpsb— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 21, 2022
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After a Tuesday vote, Democrats on the House and Ways Committee have voted to release six years of President Trump's tax returns, in what Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, called a 'new political weapon.'
"This meeting actually sets a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president," Brady told reporters on Tuesday. "I won’t speculate on what the next Congress and this committee will focus on related to tax returns, but I do know that a major focus will be on the IRS."
The committee voted along party lines, 24-16, to make public the returns - which will span 2015 to 2020. While the returns could be released as soon as hours, per The Hill, Chairman Richard Neal said that 'sensitive information' would be redacted, which may take days.
Chairman Neal told reporters tonight that redactions of sensitive information will be made, and that’s probably why it’ll take a few days to release the full docs. https://t.co/4HKGOZUaEA— bryan metzger (@metzgov) December 21, 2022
Progressives, meanwhile, cheered the decision.
"Chairman [Richard Neal (D-MA)] and the Ways and Means Democrats are to be congratulated for their dogged pursuit of this important information. Now they must share the fruit of their labors with the American people, the final arbiters of what is acceptable behavior by our elected leaders," said Frank Clemente, director of the Americans for Tax Fairness nonprofit.
That said, some legal minds are saying that Democrats would be abusing the oversight process if they rush to make the tax returns public without substantially assessing the presidential audit program - the ostensible reason for obtaining Trump's returns, The Hill reports.
"Any review of the presidential audit program that starts now and ends when the GOP takes control of the House in January would be slapdash and superficial," said NYU Law professor Daniel Hemel in an article posted to Lawfare earlier this month.
"Neal and the House Ways and Means Committee would undermine their own credibility—and could be seen as hoodwinking the courts and the public—if they proceeded to release the returns outside the context of a comprehensive review of the presidential audit program," he added.
Tax experts have expressed doubts about whether the documents obtained by the committee are enough to back up years of investigative reporting that also gained access to Trump’s financial records and painted a dismal picture of Trump as a businessman.
“It could be a case of too little too late,” Steve Rosenthal, an analyst with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said in an interview. “I expect very little, without a fuller probe.” -The Hill
In 2017, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow released two pages of Trump's 2005 tax returns, which revealed that he paid $38 million that year, and the rate he paid was higher than than Mitt Romney and several other top earners.