January 3, 2019
THE CASE FOR CONGRESS OBTAINING TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS
- The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to inspect the tax returns of any taxpayer, including the president, and may submit those tax returns to the full House for review, effectively making them public.
- The incoming House of Representatives should make it a top priority to obtain and review President Trump’s tax returns, including those of his businesses and trusts. Trump’s tax returns would be invaluable tools for two distinct and equally important investigations:
- As guides to the complex financial structures and tax loopholes used by the wealthy, including President Trump, to determine if they are avoiding their fair share of taxes through unfair special breaks and how laws should be reformed to stop such tax avoidance and/or evasion.
- As the best source of answers to vital questions about Donald Trump’s presidency, including whether there are any conflicts of interest and/or foreign influences that could be adversely affecting his exercise of official duties.
- President Trump is a billionaire, and yet has responded with pride to charges of going years without paying any federal income taxes. Reviewing his tax history could help explain how the very wealthy can go tax free and how to prevent it.
- The principal source of President Trump’s wealth—real estate—is infamous for the special treatment it receives under the tax code. Reviewing if and how President Trump has exploited real estate tax loopholes would provide a useful roadmap for reform.
- Despite his claims to the contrary, President Trump and his family probably benefitted greatly from the tax legislation he promoted and signed into law. The public has a right to know if his support for the law, and for subsequent tax cuts, is influenced by personal financial gain.
- Credible media reports have chronicled instances of unethical tax avoidance and even tax fraud by President Trump and his family. The public has the right to know if he has in fact committed such acts; if so, has he ever been held accountable for them and does the IRS have the authority and capacity to hold him accountable now.
- President Trump has been credibly charged with taking public action to protect and enhance his private wealth, particularly in relation to his luxury hotel a few blocks from the White House. His tax returns are likely to reveal potential conflicts of interest.
- The president has shown inexplicable deference to the leaders of foreign powers in conflict with the United States, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that his business connections in those countries are influencing his conduct of American foreign policy and threatening national security. His tax returns and those of his business entities could provide evidence of foreign business connections that jeopardize his independence.
Read the full report here.