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The House Ways and Means Committee released documents

The House Ways and Means Committee released documents

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Former President Trump speaks in Palm Beach, Florida in November 2022. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The House Ways and Means Committee released six years on Friday of former President Trump’s tax returns, revealing a complex web of businesses and other sources of income.

Why it matters: The release comes after the committee’s years-long effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program — and as he again seeks a second term in the White House while facing other investigations and legal damages.

  • The committee officially voted to publish the former president’s returns earlier this month.

As indicated in report published by the commission earlier this month, the former president’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 showed that his finances and the amount of taxes he and Melania Trump owed fluctuated significantly during his presidency.

  • He and the former first lady reported negative income of $4.7 million in 2020, with $0 in taxable income and a net tax liability of $0. That same year, the couple claimed a $5.4 million tax refund.

What are they saying: “The president is not an ordinary taxpayer,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement Friday. “They wield power and influence unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility.”

  • “We expected that the IRS would expand the mandatory audit program to account for the complex nature of the former president’s financial situation, but we found no evidence of that,” Neal said. “This is a major failure of the IRS under the previous administration and certainly not what we were hoping to find.”
  • The committee released a compressed file containing copies of Trump’s personal and business declarations.

News Movement: The committee’s release includes thousands of pages of Trump’s most recent tax returns.

  • Although some sensitive details, such as Social Security numbers, have been redacted, the documents reveal previously undisclosed details about the former president’s finances while he served in the White House.
  • Trump has reported having several foreign financial interests, including accounts in the United Kingdom, Ireland, China and Saint Martin.
  • Trump, whose name appears on hotels around the world, also reported other financial activity in more than a dozen foreign countries, including Korea, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Panama.

The big picture: Newly released records help in confirmation certificate by Trump’s former tax official that he reported significant losses on his returns in the decade leading up to 2018.

  • For example, in 2017 — the first year of Trump’s presidency — he and Melania reported a combined negative $12.9 million in personal income.
  • Its main holding company, DJT Holdings LLC, reported losses of over $300 million in the six years the return covers also.
  • Tax returns related to the Trump family business have come under intense scrutiny in recent years, with a jury convicts the Trump Organization for tax fraud earlier this month.

Background: The House Ways and Means Committee initially requested Trump’s IRS returns in 2019 as part of an investigation into the office’s presidential audit program.

  • After the Treasury Department rejected the committee’s request, the committee’s chairman, Congressman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), sued to enforce its investigation.

  • The case eventually came to Supreme Court in November, which ruled against Trump and cleared the way for the committee to gain access to the statements.
  • Separate report by the committee, released earlier this month, found that the IRS did not audit Trump’s taxes during the first two years of his presidency, even though the service is required to conduct mandatory reviews of presidents’ tax returns.
  • The Democratic-led committee faced a deadline to complete its investigation of the audit program and Trump’s return, as the impending Republican majority in the House would likely end the committee’s investigation in the new Congress.

The other side: “Democrats should never have done it, the Supreme Court should never have approved it, and it’s going to lead to terrible things for so many people,” Trump said in a statement Friday. “Radical left democrats have used everything as a weapon, but remember it’s a dangerous two-way street!”

  • The newly released documents, Trump said, “show yet again how proud I’ve been successful and how I’ve been able to use depreciation and a variety of other tax breaks as an incentive to create thousands of jobs and great structures and businesses.”
  • Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee issued a minority opinion report Friday objected to the release of the tax records, saying, “The dangerous precedent set by the Democrats will cause the American public to demand that other people’s tax returns be released.”

What we watch: During their final hybrid conference before the new Congress next year, House Republicans discussed how — or whether — they should weaponize any of President Biden’s comebacks in light of the revelation, according to multiple sources of the conversation.

Go deeper: The panel on Jan. 6 indicts Trump on criminal charges

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.

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