HomeHomeHouse Democrats vote to make Trump's tax returns public

House Democrats vote to make Trump’s tax returns public

The Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted on Tuesday evening to release Donald Trump‘s tax returns.

It ends a nearly four year long fight between liberal lawmakers and the former president, who fought tooth-and-nail to shield his financial statements from public view. 

Debate lasted for more than three hours behind closed doors before a final vote of 24 to 16. All Democrats voted in favor of the action while all Republicans on the panel voted against.

It’s not immediately clear when the documents will be released. 

‘Regrettably, the deed is done,’ Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the panel, told reporters in a press conference after the vote.

Six years’ worth of Trump’s most recent tax returns will be covered and documents from eight of his businesses. 

That was the original request made by committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal in 2019, after Democrats won back the House majority in their 2018 ‘blue wave.’ 

‘Over our objections and opposition, Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee have unleashed a dangerous new political weapon that overturns decades of privacy protections for average taxpayers,’ Brady said at his press conference.

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Donald Trump has fought for years to keep his tax returns from the House Ways and Means Committee

The committee's Democratic chairman Rep. Richard Neal said the decision was 'neither punitive nor malicious' in remarks after the vote

The committee’s Democratic chairman Rep. Richard Neal said the decision was ‘neither punitive nor malicious’ in remarks after the vote

He claimed it had ‘nothing to do with the stated purpose of reviewing the IRS presidential audit process.’ 

Throughout his remarks he stressed that it was Trump’s ‘personal’ returns at the heart of the matter. 

The former president waged a lengthy legal battle to keep lawmakers from obtaining his tax returns that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Last month, justices rejected Trump’s last-ditch request to stop Ways and Means Democrats from getting the financial documents. None of the six conservative nor three liberal jurists dissented.

GOP Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, another Ways and Means Republican, called Democrats’ fight for Trump’s taxes a ‘witch hunt.’ 

Chairman Neal opened his own post-vote remarks comparing the committee room’s layout to the way it looked on January 6, when furniture was used to barricade doors and windows as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.

But during his press conference he insisted the move to release the ex-president’s tax returns was ‘not punitive or malicious.’

Ways and Means committee staffers were seen wheeling boxes full of documents to the panel's chamber on Tuesday afternoon

Ways and Means committee staffers were seen wheeling boxes full of documents to the panel’s chamber on Tuesday afternoon

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the committee's top Republican, claimed 'average taxpayers' will be harmed by the decision to release Trump's taxes

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the committee’s top Republican, claimed ‘average taxpayers’ will be harmed by the decision to release Trump’s taxes

Nevada Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford said after Neal’s remarks, ‘We take our jobs seriously, and this vote tonight was not taken lightly. But we clearly have a lot of work to do to build back the IRS.’

He said the tax agency ‘has been defunded for more than a decade by Republican cuts.’

Committee staffers were seen wheeling stacks of documents into the committee room on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the vote.

A subsequent report put out by the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday night suggests that Trump’s tax returns were significantly overlooked by the IRS during his time in office. 

The Democrat-led report notes that IRS policy mandates a yearly audit on a sitting president and vice president’s individual tax return.

‘The former President’s individual income tax returns filed in 2018, 2019, and 2020 were not selected for examination until after he left office and only the 2016 tax return was subject to a mandatory examination,’ the 29-page file states.

The committee released a 29-page report suggesting the IRS was not properly resourced or funded during the Trump administration

The committee released a 29-page report suggesting the IRS was not properly resourced or funded during the Trump administration 

It claims that Trump’s 2015 returns were not even audited until Democrats asked for them in 2019. 

‘[T]he IRS sent a letter to the former President notifying him that his tax year 2015 return was selected for examination on April 3, 2019, which is the date the Chairman sent the initial request to the IRS for the former President’s return information and related tax returns,’ the report states.

Under Trump’s administration, it states, ‘it was clear that the mandatory audit program was not a priority and was not provided with the resources needed to ensure compliance by the former President.’ 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a top political foil of Trump’s while he was in office, praised the committee’s work and called for reforms to the IRS audit system with regards to US presidents.

‘The Ways & Means Committee’s solemn oversight work has revealed the urgent need for legislation to ensure the public can trust in real accountability and transparency during the audit of a sitting president’s tax returns – not only in the case of President Trump, but for any president. The American people deserve to know without question that no one is above the law,’ the California Democrat said in a statement late on Tuesday night.

‘From Day One, Chairman Richard Neal has brought immense integrity to the committee’s vital oversight and legislative responsibilities.’

Trump defied years of precedent during the 2016 campaign when he refused to release his tax returns while running for president.

The committee meeting opened publicly on Tuesday but then quickly became a private session for more than three hours

The committee meeting opened publicly on Tuesday but then quickly became a private session for more than three hours

He’s held it close to the vest since, but a New York Times report in 2020 uncovered nearly two decades’ worth of Trump tax documents – but did not include the most recent at the time, from 2018 and 2019. 

That report showed that the ex-president allegedly skirted paying federal income taxes for 11 of the 18 years examined.

Documents released following Tuesday’s House committee vote will give a more updated look at Trump’s finances, though they will end with 2020 – so there won’t be any new information from after he left office.

It’s the second blow to the ex-president’s financial credibility this month alone – against the backdrop of several other legal woes.

On December 7, a Manhattan jury in Trump’s home state of New York found his family real estate empire guilty on multiple tax fraud counts, among other criminal charges.

And Tuesday’s Congressional committee vote comes one day after another House panel, the select committee investigating January 6, voted unanimously to refer Trump for criminal charges.

The committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans held a dramatic final hearing on Monday, summarizing their public case on Trump’s culpability for the riot in the cavernous Cannon House Office building chamber. 

They sent Attorney General Merrick Garland recommendations for four charges against Trump: obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and ‘inciting,’ ‘aiding’ or ‘assisting’ an insurrection.

The recommendation is only a symbolic reprimand unless Garland decides to take it up.

Trump responded to the January 6 committee in a post on his Truth Social app on Monday evening, writing: ‘These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me. It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.’

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