White House press secretary Sean Spicer on April 17 said President Trump is still under audit from the Internal Revenue Service. Trump has repeatedly declined to release his tax returns. (Reuters)

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump defied recent historical precedent and resisted releasing his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit by the IRS.

On Monday, a day before the deadline for most Americans to pay their 2016 taxes, White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced that Trump's most recent taxes are being audited and will not be released.

“It’s been covered before. It's the same thing that was discussed during the campaign trail. The president is under audit,” Spicer told reporters during the daily news briefing. “It’s a routine audit that continues.”

Presidents and Vice Presidents are automatically subjected to tax audits by the IRS as a matter of routine practice — a fact that has not stopped previous holders of those offices from publicly releasing their returns. Such an audit does not prevent Trump from automatically releasing his returns. The White House has also declined to provide proof of audits of current and past tax returns.


Reporters try to ask questions as White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a news briefing at the White House on March 7. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Asked Monday whether the president would authorize the IRS to confirm the existence of audits involving his returns, Spicer did not answer. Instead, he suggested that voters had made up their minds about Trump's taxes.

“We’re under the same audit that has existed, and nothing has changed,” Spicer said. “The American people understood when they elected him in November.”

Later, Spicer was asked whether the White House would say that Trump would never release his tax returns.

“We’ll have to get back to you on that,” he said.