Wondering About Trump’s Sources Of Income? Don’t Expect To See His Post-Presidency Tax Returns Soon.

Democrats successfully fought to get Trump’s tax returns public when he was president. That won’t happen now he’s running again.

Former President Donald Trump, facing mounting legal bills, has lately taken to hawking various items other presidential candidates would have turned their noses up at, like sneakers and country music-themed Bibles.

But at a time when Trump appears cash-strapped, which he denies, the most recent hard data on how he supports himself goes back to 2020, his last year in the White House. Democrats, after a lengthy court battle, received his tax returns and found the IRS had not been auditing them as required.

That bruising battle is also why Trump’s post-presidency income taxes will likely stay under wraps. He’s shown no interest in voluntarily disclosing them, and Democrats on Capitol Hill have no interest in trying to get them.

“Not having these documents is depriving the public of a major source of information they should be able to use to evaluate the candidates,” Robert Maguire, research director for the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told HuffPost.

“This is a matter, in some instances, of national security in terms of the ability of other countries and wealthy interests have to potentially make a financially struggling candidate whole. It is also something that has been a bipartisan agreement for decades up to Trump’s running for office.”

The Trump campaign did not reply to a request for comment.

Though Trump claimed he had some $500 million on hand earlier this month, his lawyers said it would have been nearly impossible for him to post a bond of almost that amount in his New York fraud case. The funds he has previously tapped for his legal expenses are also running low on money.

Two weeks ago, he put up a $92 million bond to satisfy a judgment against him in a defamation lawsuit won by a New York writer who said he’d sexually assaulted her. Trump, who is campaigning while out on bail for several criminal cases, also faces the need to raise $175 million for a bond in a separate New York civil case over lying about the values of his business properties. That’s down from the $464 million originally decreed by the court, which was reduced on Monday as Trump appeals the case.

But Trump confidently said he would have no problem raising that amount of cash quickly, in contrast with his lawyers’ complaint that raising the original nearly half-billion would be effectively impossible.

“I don’t need to borrow money. I have a lot of money. I built a great company,” Trump told reporters Monday after the bond reduction.

However, Trump didn’t rule out seeking financial help outside the nation’s borders if needed. He said that despite federal election law prohibiting candidates from taking money from foreign nationals and a prohibition in Article I of the U.S. Constitution that bars U.S. government officeholders from accepting presents from “any King, Prince or foreign State.”

“If you go borrow from a big bank, many of the banks are outside of this — as you know, the biggest banks, frankly, are outside of our country. So you could do that,” he said.

Trump refused to release his taxes in the 2016 campaign, failing to observe an informal tradition of major candidates for the White House since the 1970s post-Watergate era. At the time, he said his taxes were under audit, something that does not prevent them from being disclosed. He has not released them in any subsequent year, either.

When Democrats took control of Congress in 2019, one of the first things they set about doing was trying to use an exception in taxpayer confidentiality protections to get the IRS to hand over Trump’s taxes.

Under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, the chairs of the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate are allowed to ask for tax return information, including that of individual taxpayers, as long as there is a “legislative purpose.”

Democrats wanted to investigate whether Trump was being audited annually, as was called for under IRS guidelines for presidents. Trump sued to prevent it. The legal fight finally ended in Democrats’ favor in November 2022, when the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Trump of a lower court ruling allowing lawmakers access to six years of Trump’s returns, ending with 2020.

The novel nature of the case — Congress invoking a very rarely used power against a sitting president — explained much of the delay in freeing up the returns. But even with many of the legal questions resolved and possibly fearful of political backlash, Democrats’ two top tax writers have shown no stomach to try again, even though Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) retains chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.

“The process with ours was two years, that it took. So it’s a long ways to go, that’s for sure,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee.

“It certainly is a long and arduous process to go through. The patience that I think we demonstrated was really important. Whether or not that patience can be embraced again, I don’t know, in the Senate.”

A spokesman for Wyden declined to say whether or not Wyden was interested in trying to dislodge Trump’s tax returns but said he might seek a vote on a bill written in the wake of the past disclosure.

The bill would require presidents and presidential nominees to disclose their tax returns. If they did not do so within 15 days of being formally nominated, the Federal Election Commission could obtain them from the IRS and make them public.

Wyden would seek a Senate floor vote on the bill, Finance spokesman Ryan Carey told HuffPost, if Trump has not disclosed his returns 15 days after this summer’s GOP convention, “which it’s safe to assume he will not.”

“Separate from Trump’s tax returns, Senator Wyden believes Trump should also disclose any loans he’s received from foreign entities, and Congress should investigate if he fails to do so,” Carey continued.

CREW’s Maguire said the onus should not solely fall on Democrats to demand Trump disclose, given the bipartisan nature of disclosure in the past.

“Republicans should be calling on Trump to release his tax returns,” he said. “As a last resort, should Democrats request tax returns? Yes. But it should not be something that they alone have to do.”

He said he would not be surprised if the current scenario was why Trump fought so hard to prevent his returns from being released when he was president.

“Trump fought tooth and nail — at significant taxpayer expense and DOJ resources — to block his taxes from seeing the light of day,” Maguire said.

“Now, however, he wouldn’t be able to use the [Department of Justice] as his personal lawyers, and he’s enmeshed in multiple other legal battles right now. It’s not clear that he would be able to mount the same legal defense he did when he was president.”

Popular in the Community


What's Hot