House Committee OKs Release of Trump’s Tax Returns and IRS Audits

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday afternoon voted to approve the public release of six years’ worth of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, along with filings related to eight affiliated businesses, marking yet another headache for the former president as he prepares to launch a bid to get back in the White House.

After more than four hours of discussion, largely behind closed doors, the committee split along party lines, voting 24-16 to move ahead with the disclosure.

Following the vote, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the committee chairman, said that the decision was not “punitive” or “malicious.” Committee member Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) explained the importance of releasing the documents was one of transparency, saying members of the public “need to see the returns themselves.”

“It’s about one office: the presidency,” she added. “It’s about making sure there are checks and balances for the presidency.”

Condemning the “unprecedented leak by lameduck Democrats” in a statement to The Daily Beast, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung warned, “If this injustice can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans without cause.”

He also called for the release of tax data on “Nancy Pelosi and her weirdo husband Paul to see how much dirty money they have made from selling out America and jeopardizing our national security.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the committee’s highest-ranking Republican member, similarly attacked the outcome of the vote. He told reporters just prior to Tuesday’s meeting that the disclosure would present “a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reform,” according to CNN.

Neal said Tuesday that the redaction process, in which staffers will comb through the returns to omit sensitive and personal information like addresses and Social Security numbers, could delay the full trove’s release. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a committee member, told reporters to expect a delay of “a few days.” But lawmawkers said that reports on the returns did not need to be censored, with the release of several coming later on Tuesday night.

Escorted by a Capitol Police officer, staff members move boxes of documents from a hearing room to an office following a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee, in which members voted on party lines to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the public.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The tax data was handed over to the Democratic-led panel by the Treasury Department late last month after a lengthy legal battle that ended only when the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case.

The Ways and Means Committee has been asking for Trump’s returns for more than three years, with its first inquiry coming as members scrutinized a supposedly mandatory Internal Revenue Service program that audits presidents. In his remarks after the vote, Neal emphasized repeatedly that the IRS did not audit Trump during his first two years in office, and only began its inspection after the committee began asking questions in 2019. (That audit is not yet complete.)

John Koskinen, the former IRS commissioner whose tenure overlapped with Trump’s first year as president, told The New York Times on Tuesday night that he did not know why the audit did not initially occur. “It does seem to me to be a legitimate question, if the IRS had the responsibility and wasn’t auditing, what’s the explanation?” he asked.

Upon taking office, Trump broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns to the public. In 2020, the Times published a lengthy investigation into the matter, revealing that the septuagenarian paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2017, and none at all over more than half of the 18-year period examined by the newspaper.

The committee’s decision comes just one day after another House committee—the one investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol—voted to refer him to the Justice Department on four criminal charges.

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