IRS didn’t launch audit of Trump’s presidential-era taxes until day House Democrats asked for documents

The House Ways and Means Committee released a handful of documents and reports on former President Donald Trump’s sparser-than-expected 2015-2020 tax returns Tuesday night, hours after voting along party lines to release the long-sought returns to the public. The tax documents themselves won’t be made public for a few days, until committee staff have removed personal information like bank accounts and taxpayer ID numbers. 

Committee Democrats instead focused Tuesday night on the IRS’s mandatory audits of Trump during his presidency, and they found them lacking. Trump filed his 2015 and 2016 tax returns in 2017, the year he took office, but the IRS did not select any of his presidential-era returns for an audit until April 3, 2019 — the same day committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) requested access to his taxes and any associated audits, the committee’s report said

The IRS has had a rule since the Carter administration that “individual tax returns for the president and the vice president are subject to mandatory review.” Neal said Tuesday he has introduced legislation to codify that rule in law, requiring an annual audit of the president’s taxes and more transparency around the audits, including an initial report no later than 90 days after a president files their tax returns.

“A president is no ordinary taxpayer,” Neal said. “They hold power and influence unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility.” The House will vote on the bill this week, Democratic leaders said.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) told CNN he found it “surprising” didn’t start auditing Trump until “the day they received Mr. Neal’s request for these documents,” He also said the supporting documentation for Trump’s huge write-offs was very thin, and “I have my doubts that another taxpayer could go in to audit and provide as little as was provided here and expect to have a completed audit.”

The committee also released a letter from acting IRS Commissioner Douglas O’Donnell that said the agency started to audit Trump’s 2015 returns in January 2018, more than a year before the Ways and Means Committee’s timeline, and the ongoing audits of the 2016 to 2019 returns were considered “mandatory.”

A separate report from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation criticized the IRS for not bringing in specialists with the expertise to audit Trump’s complicated tax structures and for giving deference to Trump’s figures because his lawyers and an accounting firm had participated in preparing his returns. 

A Trump spokesman called the upcoming release of Trump’s tax documents an “unprecedented leak by lame duck Democrats.” 

“It is highly unusual for lawmakers to forcibly release private tax information, and Trump was not legally required to disclose his taxes,” Politico notes. Every president except Trump has released his tax returns voluntarily since 1976.

The House Ways and Means Committee released a handful of documents and reports on former President Donald Trump’s sparser-than-expected 2015-2020 tax returns Tuesday night, hours after voting along party lines to release the long-sought returns to the public. The tax documents themselves won’t be made public for a few days, until committee staff have removed…

The House Ways and Means Committee released a handful of documents and reports on former President Donald Trump’s sparser-than-expected 2015-2020 tax returns Tuesday night, hours after voting along party lines to release the long-sought returns to the public. The tax documents themselves won’t be made public for a few days, until committee staff have removed…