After years of investigations, House Democrats released former President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns today (Dec. 30). The announcement comes days after a House committee found the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not properly conduct its audit on the former president, partly due to a lack of resources.
“With over 400 flow-thru returns reported on the Form 1040, it is not possible to obtain the resources available to examine all potential issues,” an internal IRS memo said.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee looked at the IRS’s practice of auditing sitting presidents, which it did not do for Trump’s first two years of presidency. The IRS only began the mandatory process after Representative Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, requested the tax returns in 2019. Neal is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the House’s tax-writing committee.
Most of the information from the documents has already come to light due to the New York Times’ reporting and reports released by the House committee. The documents show Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income tax during his first three years in office, but he paid nothing in 2020 due to huge losses. The public documents could reveal if Trump benefited from policies he instituted as president, including tax breaks for the wealthy.
Trump refused to voluntarily release his tax returns when running for president, breaking a decades-long norm for presidential candidates. Though Congress has the power to release private tax documents, it rarely does so.
Representative Kevin Brady, the top Republican of the Ways and Means Committee who represents Texas, said in a statement this sets a dangerous precedent for Congress to have “nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business and labor leaders or even the Supreme Court justices themselves.”