Americans for Tax Fairness
Op Ed

10 Reasons To Obtain Trump’s Tax Returns

The House of Representatives can request them and should, for very compelling reasons.

By - Jan 4th, 2019 10:54 am
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Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

It’s not a witch-hunt or a partisan attack by Democrats against an unpopular Republican president. Obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns is an important public policy objective and a legitimate exercise of Congress’s oversight authority.

That’s a key finding of a comprehensive report by Americans for Tax Fairness entitled The Case for Congress Obtaining Trump’s Tax Returns. The 21-page report examines the issue from a historical perspective and explains in great detail why Trump’s tax records could answer a number of important policy questions vital to our democracy.

The House of Representatives will soon have a chance to vote on whether to mandate major presidential candidates and sitting presidents to release their tax returns, as this requirement is included in top priority legislation known as H.R. 1 being introduced today in Congress, an omnibus government reform package.

Among the findings in the ATF report:

  • The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to inspect the tax returns of any taxpayer, including the president, and may submit those tax returns to the full House for review, effectively making them public.
  • The incoming House of Representatives should make it a top priority to obtain and review President Trump’s tax returns, including those of his businesses and trusts. Trump’s tax returns would be invaluable tools for two distinct and equally important investigations.
  • As guides to the complex financial structure and tax loopholes used by the wealthy, including President Trump, to determine if they are avoiding their fair share of taxes though unfair special breaks and how laws should be reformed to stop such tax avoidance and/or evasion.
  • As the best source of answers to vital questions about Donald Trump’s presidency, including whether there are any conflicts of interest and/or foreign influences that could be adversely affecting his exercise of official duties.
  • President Trump is a billionaire and yet has responded with pride to charges of going years without paying any federal income taxes. Reviewing his tax history could help explain how the wealthy go tax-free and how to prevent it.
  • The principal source of President Trump’s wealth – real estate – is infamous for the special treatment it receives under the tax code. Reviewing if and how President Trump has exploited real estate tax loopholes would provide a useful roadmap for reform.
  • Despite his claims to the contrary, President Trump and his family probably benefited greatly from tax legislation he promoted and signed into law in 2017. The public has a right to know if his support for the law, and for subsequent tax cuts, is influenced by personal financial gain.
  • Credible media reports have chronicled instances of unethical tax avoidance and even tax fraud by President Trump and his family. The public has the right to know if he has in fact committed such acts; if so, has he ever been held accountable for them and does the IRS have the authority and capacity to hold him accountable now
  • President Trump has been credibly charged with taking public action to protect and enhance his private wealthy, particularly in relation to his luxury hotel a few blocks from the White House. His tax returns are likely to reveal potential conflicts of interest.
  • The president has shown inexplicable deference to the leaders of foreign powers in conflict with the United States, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, raising the possibility that his business connections in those countries are influencing his conduct of American foreign policy and threatening national security. His tax returns and those of his business entities could provide evidence of foreign business connections that jeopardize his independence.

“Obtaining the president’s tax returns is not some fishing expedition,” says Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “It’s a necessary exercise in the oversight responsibility of Congress. The public has a right to know if the policies the president advocates are what he believes are in the best interest of the country or in the best interest of his personal finances.”

The ATF report has been distributed to key leaders in Congress as they consider efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns. The full report is available HERE.

Americans for Tax Fairness is a diverse campaign of more than 420 national, state and local endorsing organizations united in support of a fair tax system that works for all Americans.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

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