WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to publicly release a report on Donald Trump’s tax returns that the former president has long tried to cover up.
Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said supporting materials would be released with the report. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, raised privacy concerns because the documents could contain information such as Social Security numbers.
The report could provide a more complete look at Trump’s personal and business finances, possibly showing how much money he paid in taxes, what profits he made from foreign operations and whether his income was as large as the famous multi-billionaire suggests.
The report comes after a years-long battle that ultimately led to the Supreme Court last month allowing the Treasury Department to send the returns to Congress. The committee obtained six years of tax returns from Trump and some of his businesses.
Democrats are under pressure to act aggressively. With just two weeks to go before Republicans officially take control of the House of Representatives, Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for Democrats to reveal any information they have gathered about the figure who still defines US politics despite losing re-election in 2020 .
THIS IS BREAKING NEWS. Earlier AP history is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee met Tuesday to vote on whether to publicly release Donald Trump’s tax returns from years the former president has long tried to hide.
Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., closely watched the group, which planned to vote on the exemption in a closed session that could last several hours. And if lawmakers do move forward with plans to release the declarations, it’s unclear how soon that would happen.
But after a years-long battle that ultimately led to the Supreme Court clearing the way for the Treasury Department to send the declarations to Congress last month, Democrats are under pressure to act aggressively. The committee obtained six years of tax returns from Trump and some of his businesses. And with just two weeks to go until Republicans officially take control of the House, Tuesday’s meeting could be the last chance for Democrats to release any information they’ve gathered.
Republicans opposed the potential release, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, called any release of Trump’s tax returns a “dangerous new political weapon” that “even Democrats will regret.”
“Our concern is not whether the president should have released his tax returns as is customary, or the accuracy of his tax returns,” Brady said. “Our concern is that, if this committee action were to pass, it would set a terrible precedent that would unleash a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president and undoes decades of protections for the privacy of ordinary Americans that have existed since Watergate.”
Trump has long had a complicated relationship with the personal income tax.
As a presidential candidate in 2016, he broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax forms. During a presidential debate that year, he bragged that he was “smart” because he didn’t pay federal taxes, and later claimed he would not personally benefit from the 2017 tax cuts he signed into law that favored people with extraordinary wealth, asking Americans to just take him at his word.
Tax records would be a useful indicator of his business success. The image of a shrewd businessman was key to a political brand honed during his years as a tabloid attraction and star of the TV show The Apprentice. They could also identify any financial commitments – including foreign debts – that might have affected how he governed.
But Americans were largely unaware of Trump’s relationship with the IRS until October 2018 and September 2020, when The New York Times published two separate series based on leaked tax documents.
Articles by the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners revealed how Trump received the modern-day equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s estate, with much of that money coming from what the Times called “tax evasion” in the 1990s. Trump sued the Times and his niece, Mary Trump, in 2021 for providing the records to the newspaper. In November, Mary Trump asked an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision to dismiss her claims that her uncle and two of his siblings stole millions of dollars from her during a 2001 family settlement.
The 2020 filings showed Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018. Trump paid no income taxes at all for 10 of the last 15 years because he routinely lost more money than he made.
The articles exposed deep inequities in the US tax code, as Trump, a well-known multi-billionaire, paid little in federal income taxes. IRS figures show that, on average, taxpayers paid about $12,200 in 2017, about 16 times what the former president paid.
Details of Trump’s income from foreign operations and debt levels were also contained in tax returns, which the former president derided as “fake news”.
As of the writing of the 2020 articles, Neal said he saw an ethical problem with Trump overseeing a federal agency he has also fought in court filings.
“Donald Trump is now the boss of an agency he considers an adversary,” Neal said in 2020. “It is critical that the President’s IRS audit program remain free from interference.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office also obtained copies of Trump’s February 2021 tax returns after a lengthy legal battle that included two trips to the Supreme Court.
The office, then led by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm in 2019, seeking access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns and related documents.
Prosecutors issued the subpoena after Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told Congress that Trump had misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets. The allegations are the subject of a fraud lawsuit New York Attorney General Letitia James filed against Trump and his campaign in September.
Donald Bender, Trump’s longtime accountant, testified at the Trump Organization’s recent criminal trial that Trump reported losses on his tax returns every year for a decade, including nearly $700 million in 2009 and $200 million in 2010.
Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP who has prepared Trump’s personal tax returns for years, said Trump’s reported losses from 2009 to 2018 included net operating losses from some of the many businesses he owns through his Trump Organization.
The Trump Organization was indicted earlier this month on tax fraud charges for helping some executives avoid paying taxes on company benefits such as condos and luxury cars.
The current Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the investigation into Trump and his business is ongoing.
“We will follow the facts and continue to do our job,” Bragg said.
Trump, who refused to release his returns during his 2016 presidential campaign and four years in the White House, claiming he was under an IRS audit, has argued there is little to be gained from tax returns even as he has fought to preserve them. private.
“You can learn a lot from tax returns, but it’s illegal to release them if they’re not yours!” he complained on his social network last weekend.
Kinard reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Michael R. Sisak and Jill Colvin in New York wrote this report.
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