Despite Republican threats to retaliate against President Joe Biden and other Democrats, a House committee voted Tuesday to publicly release some of Donald Trump’s tax returns.
It is unclear when the Trump tax returns will be made public. Personal information must be redacted from the documents, according to lawmakers, and the process could take several days.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said releasing Trump’s tax returns is in the public interest and part of an effort to improve Internal Revenue Service auditing procedures.
“It was never intended to be punitive. It was never intended to be malicious “Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the Democratic committee chairman, said after a party-line vote following a four-hour closed-door debate.
Trump did not respond immediately to the committee vote.
Republicans condemned the move as a purely political precedent that could be used to target many Americans in the future.
“”Unfortunately, the deed is done,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The committee issued reports in support of their investigation. According to Neal and others, the IRS did not audit Trump during his first two years in office, as is standard operating procedure. Neal stated that the audit of Trump began only after Congress requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019, and that it has yet to be completed.
According to Neal and other lawmakers, Trump’s tax returns will be attached to a report to the full House on IRS auditing; sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers and street addresses, must still be redacted from the documents.
The panel had been seeking the returns since 2019, but only recently received them, leaving members with little time to review them and draw conclusions that could influence tax legislation before Republicans take control of the House in January.
The Ways and Means Committee Members on both sides of the aisle debated the final step in a years-long battle to obtain Trump’s tax returns, despite the former president’s objections and legal challenges.
Experts are keeping close tabs.
“More research is needed,” said Steve Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “There isn’t a lot of substantiation” for Trump’s tax losses, and “there’s not a lot of information about the IRS handling of the audits” on Trump’s returns.
Could the release of Trump’s tax returns serve as a model for others?
According to Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee would have authority under Congress’ oversight authority to seek President Joe Biden’s tax returns.
An IRS law allows federal lawmakers on congressional tax committees to request presidential tax returns in order to conduct an investigation into how the IRS conducts mandatory tax audits of the president. Methods and Means Democrats invoked the law to obtain Trump’s tax returns. According to Rosenthal, Republican lawmakers are unlikely to be given the authority to cast a wide net.
Trump aide calls the vote to release his tax returns a “unprecedented leak by lameduck Democrats.”
Donald Trump has not yet responded, but his campaign spokesman called the committee’s decision to release Trump’s tax returns purely political.
Democrats, according to Trump spokesman Steven Cheung, have authorised a “unprecedented leak,” which is “proof they are playing a political game they are losing.”
“If they are so determined to release President Trump’s tax returns, which show he built a very successful business and created numerous lucrative assets throughout his career, they should also release Nancy Pelosi’s tax returns.”
Cheung accused the outgoing House Speaker and her husband of financial gain from her position and said Congress should look into it.
“If this can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans for no reason,” Cheung said.
Pelosi, for her part, stated that the committee’s work “clarifies the legislative steps that must now be taken to safeguard public trust,” and that Congress should act on legislation “requiring the Internal Revenue Service to audit the President’s finances on an annual basis.”