Democrats have vowed to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns this year. And they know this is politically popular, as the majority of American voters also want to see the president’s returns and what they will show us about his foreign entanglements, the size of his fortune, and even if he has been a tax cheat.
“Democrats will include a provision in their new bill that would require presidential nominees to disclose 10 years of tax returns shortly after they become the nominee. Vice presidents would also be required to disclose a decade of returns. The tax returns would then be posted on the Federal Election Commission’s website for public viewing.”
The 10-year requirement is new since previously Democrats had said that H.R. 1 would require presidential candidates to release just three years of tax returns. But after reviewing legal authority and precedent, the bill was changed to ask for a decade of returns.
H.R. 1 is a far-reaching bill that makes sweeping ethics changes as well as lays out Democratic priorities on voting rights and health care. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said this bill will be the top priority of the new House that she takes control of today.
Even though it will pass the House, it won’t pass the Republican-controlled Senate and won’t ever go to Trump’s desk for signature. However, it will give Democratically-controlled House committees an opportunity to set Democratic priorities in the new Congress.
The House Ways and Means Committee will also take an alternative route to attempt to get their hands on Trump’s tax returns. Under a little-used IRS rule, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, will have the power to obtain the returns from the Treasury Department. Neal has said he plans to ask for them in the new Congress, but did not specify when he will do so.
Trump is the only president — or presidential candidate — in the past 50 years who has refused to release his tax returns. He told voters that he could not do so because he’s under audit by the IRS. However, the existence of an IRS audit does not mean he can’t disclose his tax returns.
And even though Neal may attempt to get the returns, Trump’s supporters have already vowed to fight such a request. If they do that will set up a legal battle between Democratic lawmakers and the Trump administration.
The quest to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns is just one more politically-charged Washington event that will surely make 2019 one of the most interesting and eventful years in American history.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.