WASHINGTON — House Democrats released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns Friday in one of their final acts before returning power to Republicans next week.
The release of the documents, from 2015-2020, is the final chapter in a long-running legal battle between the 76-year-old former president and the House Ways and Means Committee, which sued in 2019 seeking Trump’s financial information.
Committee Republicans opposed the release and said Tuesday that “Democrats are wielding a new political weapon by releasing confidential tax information despite claiming it was done for a legitimate legislative purpose.”
The committee released some of the most notable findings last week in a 29-page executive summary, including the fact that Trump regularly claimed large losses, reducing his tax payments.
Trump and his wife Melania reported negative income in four of the six tax years between 2015 and 2020, according to the initial disclosures.
The Trumps reported positive income to the tune of $24.3 million in 2018 and $4.4 million in 2019. The couple paid nearly $1 million in taxes in 2018 and $133,445 in 2019.
In 2015, 2016, and 2017, the Trumps’ federal tax bill was just $750. In 2020, the then-president reported a loss of $4.8 million and paid $0 in federal taxes. Congress barred Trump’s businesses, including hotels and golf courses, from receiving federal COVID-19 pandemic aid that year.
The Democrat-led committee said it needed the tax returns to review the IRS’s mandatory audit program for presidents. The panel’s executive summary stated that it found “there was only one mandatory audit started and none completed during [Trump’s] four years in office.”
Trump claimed during the 2016 campaign and throughout his presidency that he could not release the documents due to IRS audits. His political adversaries speculated that his tax returns could have shown that he is less wealthy than he has said — even undercutting his status as a billionaire.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, said in 2016 that “we have good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes. Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying taxes we would expect him to pay or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to vets or to the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s been doing,”
Trump, who refused his $400,000 presidential salary while in office, slammed the looming release in a video posted last Friday to his Truth Social platform, saying, “in an outrageous abuse of power, the radical Democrat Congress illegally obtained and leaked my personal tax returns, which show only that I’ve had tremendous success — it’s been an amazing period of time.”
Trump, who is seeking a 2024 rematch against President Biden, urged the “precedent” to now be applied to his successor.
Biden has been accused of illicitly underpaying Medicare taxes on more than $13 million in income in 2017 and 2018 and records from first son Hunter Biden’s former laptop indicate the president may have taken as much as “half” of the income from lucrative Biden family consulting work in countries where he held sway as Barack Obama’s vice president, such as China and Ukraine.
“This precedent must now be applied to the corrupt Democrats themselves. The new Republican House should immediately obtain the financial records of Joe Biden and his entire criminal enterprise,” Trump said. “Biden is a corrupt politician who spent years selling out America all over the world, including to communist China — just take a look at his accounts, take a look at all of his homes and take a look at what his son Hunter has contributed to the family.”