Republicans denounced the move as a political hit that will open a Pandora’s box.
Six years of Trump’s returns will now be available to tax experts and non-experts alike, a development that Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen said the former president feared would lead to the administration imposing additional taxes and fines.
A preliminary analysis of Trump’s taxes by Congress on tax issues, the Joint Committee on Taxation, found that the former president paid little to no taxes for years by claiming massive business losses. Trump paid $750 in 2016 and 2017 and paid nothing in 2020, JCT said.
Among the items outlined by JCT are several red flags that could change the amount of taxes Trump ultimately owes once the IRS completes pending audits.
Despite the release of the returns, important questions may still remain unanswered, said Steve Rosenthal of the impartial Tax Policy Center.
Huge losses that Trump claimed to cut his taxes appear to stem from previous tax years and have still not been settled by the IRS, making it difficult to assess their legitimacy, Rosenthal said.
Trump carried over $105 million in losses to 2015 and carried over $73 million in losses to 2016, but those likely stem from the staggering $700 million loss Trump claimed upon his return in 2009, among other potential losses, Rosenthal said.
The “elephant in the room” are those past returns that were ultimately not subject to the Ways and Means investigation.
“That’s crucial, but the committee didn’t ask for it,” Rosenthal said.
According to a Ways and Means report released last week, the IRS was heavily outmaneuvered in its attempts to control Trump, whose returns were not audited during his first two years in office, despite an IRS policy of sitting presidents.
A single agent at the IRS was responsible for investigating Trump’s sizable proceeds, taking on partners from a global law firm and a former IRS lead attorney. Trump representatives protested when it was suggested that the IRS bring in two more auditors to help handle the voluminous paperwork.
Republicans, who will take over the House on January 3, say the decision to release Trump’s taxes will open a new front in political warfare in which no one’s tax information — from that of Supreme Court justices to business and labor leaders — is immune will be of disclosure.