Monday, April 15, 2019

What is hiding in Trump's tax returns

The Tucson Daily Star featured this AP report on the ongoing battle over release of Trump’s tax returns: House Democrat, treasury chief bicker over Trump tax returns (in the print version titled “Key House Dem on Trump Taxes: Comply or else”.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top House Democrat on Saturday ratcheted up his demand for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, telling the IRS that the law clearly gives Congress a right to them. The government’s failure to respond by an April 23 deadline could send the dispute into federal court.

Trump’s treasury chief, who oversees the IRS, cited “complicated legal issues” and bemoaned “an arbitrary deadline” set by Congress, while saying he would answer in that time frame

“no” means no

Trump has repeatedly rejected disclosure of his returns because they are “under audit.” Let’s do some fact checking. From the same Daily Star feature:

During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to release his returns but said because he was under a routine audit, “I can’t.” Being under audit is no legal bar to anyone releasing his or her returns. And after the November midterm elections, Trump claimed at a news conference that the filings were too complex for people to understand.

Asked repeatedly at a House hearing Tuesday whether any regulation prohibited a taxpayer from disclosing returns when under audit, [IRS Commissioner Charles] Rettig responded “no.”

While we’re at it, “shall” means shall

[Ways and Means Chair Richard] Neal, D-Mass., argues that a 1920-era law saying the IRS “shall furnish” any tax return requested by Congress “is unambiguous and raises no complicated legal issues” and that the Treasury Department’s objections lack merit.

The biggest question now, in my mind, is not whether IRS “shall” report those returns to Congress, but rather what is in those returns that Trump, via Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, is trying desperately to hide.

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