During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump’s tax returns came up repeatedly, as opponents and much of the public called for him to release them. Trump later won the presidential election as the first major-party nominee in decades not to make his tax returns public, prompting quite a few questions from our listeners wondering if things change now that he’s president. We looked into it.
Is Trump legally obligated to release his tax returns?
In short, no. There is no existing law that mandates Trump release his tax returns. Presidents, just like private citizens, have the legal right to keep their tax returns private. But it is breaking with 40 years of precedent. One law that does exist requires all presidents and vice presidents to be audited annually by the IRS.
How did the tradition of releasing presidential tax returns even start?
Adlai Stevenson released 10 years of tax returns while running for president in 1952 and challenged former president Richard Nixon — who was running as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vice presidential candidate at the time — to do the same. Nixon didn't release his returns then, but in 1973, he gave his returns to the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation to review, making them public. Joseph Thorndike, a historian who works on the Tax History Project, tells us more on the show.
What efforts are being made to get Trump to release his returns?
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), ranking Democrat of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced legislation in January that would require President Trump to release his returns. And Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) wrote a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) asking that he apply a 1924 law to obtain Trump’s returns. We talked to Rep. Pascrell for this episode, and you can read his letter here.
How does any of this change in light of recent news regarding the Trump administration's possible ties to Russia?
You’re going to have to listen to find out the answer to this one. The Post’s Sean Sullivan takes us through this week’s Russia news and what that means for Trump’s returns.
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