- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2022

A House committee on Friday released six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, capping a yearslong fight by the former president to keep the records from public view.

The nearly 6,000 pages of filings spanning from 2015 to 2020 offer the most complete picture yet of the former real estate magnate’s finances during his time in office. The documents include more than 3,000 pages in returns from Mr. Trump’s business entities and thousands more in individual returns from the former president and his wife, Melania. 

See the documents: 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Some details were reported earlier this month by Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. For example, Mr. Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015, the year he began his campaign for president. He went on to pay only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, nearly $1 million in 2018, $133,445 in 2019 and nothing in 2020.

For 2020, the filings released Friday show, more than 150 of Mr. Trump’s business entities listed negative qualified business income, which the IRS defines as “the net amount of qualified items of income, gain, deduction and loss from any qualified trade or business.” In total for that tax year, combined with nearly $9 million in carryforward loss from previous years, Mr. Trump’s qualified losses amounted to more than $58 million for the final year of his term in office.

“The Democrats should have never done it, the Supreme Court should have never approved it, and it’s going to lead to horrible things for so many people,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Friday. “The radical, left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!”

DOCUMENT: Trump Tax Return - 2015 Individual

He said the returns “once again show how proudly successful I have been and how I have been able to use depreciation and various other tax deductions as an incentive for creating thousands of jobs and magnificent structures and enterprises.”

The returns underscore how Mr. Trump used tax law to minimize his liability.

The Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee said the release, which comes as Republicans prepare to take control of the chamber in the new Congress next week, marks the culmination of its effort to ensure “that our tax laws are applied evenly and justly, regardless of position of power.”

“Ways and Means is entrusted with great responsibilities,” Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement. “Today, the weight of our job is heavy. Congress serves as a check on the executive branch, and our committee is entrusted with oversight of our revenue system.”

Mr. Trump drew intense scrutiny from Congressional Democrats for refusing to voluntarily release his detailed tax filings in the run-up to the 2016 election, breaking long-established political tradition.

The former president did release limited details about his investments in income as part of mandatory disclosure forms, but continued to wage a legal battle to shroud the detailed filings from public scrutiny throughout his time in office.

DOCUMENT: Trump Tax Return - 2020 Individual

The Supreme Court forced Mr. Trump last month to turn over the filings to the Ways and Means Committee, which maintains jurisdiction over federal tax policy.

The committee voted last week to release the returns, with some redactions of sensitive information. The panel obtained the filings as part of its investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s performance of timely audits of Mr. Trump during his presidency.

In a report released this month, the panel accused the IRS of failing to perform the mandatory audits on a timely basis, disregarding a post-Watergate requirement.

“A president is no ordinary taxpayer,” Mr. Neal said. “They hold power and influence, unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility.”

“The committee expected that these mandatory audits were being conducted promptly and in accordance with IRS policies,” Mr. Neal said. “However, our review found that under the prior administration, the program was dormant. We know now, the first mandatory audit was opened two years into his presidency. On the same day, this committee requested his returns.”

President Biden has been audited twice while in office, in 2020 and 2021, according to White House spokesman Andrew Bates. Former President Barack Obama was audited each year during his eight years in office.

A separate report released by the Joint Committee on Taxation raised multiple red flags stemming from Mr. Trump’s filings, including carryover losses, questionable charitable donations and loans to his children that the committee said could be considered taxable gifts.

Mr. Trump, who has announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, called the committee’s release a continuation of a Democrat-led “witch hunt” to keep him from running for office.

He said the “extremely complex” filings reveal nothing more than his successful run in business, adding that his time in office came at great sacrifice financially.

“Sadly and pathetically, for the past six years, the radical Democrats and the fake news media have been trying to deceive the public about these simple facts,” Mr. Trump said in a pre-recorded video statement included in a fundraising email sent minutes after the committee released the returns. “Now 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. The seizure of confidential records was completely unconstitutional. There is no legitimate legislative purpose for their action.”

Mr. Trump has touted his wealth in annual statements used to secure loans and to justify his standing among the world’s billionaires.

The committee’s release of the filings coincides with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit alleging Mr. Trump inflated the value of his business holdings in financial disclosures as part of a multi-year fraud.

Mr. Trump’s accounting firm has dismissed accusations that he inflated his wealth and Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The New York Times published a series in 2018 based on leaked tax records that showed Mr. Trump received the present-day equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate holdings. The newspaper said much of that was passed through “tax dodges” in the 1990s.

The House recently passed a measure that would require audits of all presidents’ income tax filings. Republicans opposed the bill over concerns that the audits would infringe on privacy and be used as a political cudgel.

The bill stands little chance of becoming law under the Republican-led House.

See the documents: 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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