By Moira Warburton and Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee voted on Tuesday to release partially blacked-out tax returns from former President Donald Trump and said tax authorities did not adequately vet his returns while he was in office.
The House Ways and Means committee voted to release a summary of Trump’s tax returns between 2015 and 2021, the years he ran for president and served in the White House, the panelists said.
That could lead to more unwelcome scrutiny for the former president as he mounts another White House bid.
But the committee also said the US Internal Revenue Service did not play by its own rules when it failed to audit Trump’s tax returns during three of his four years in office. Members said Congress should pass legislation to strengthen the presidential audit program.
“What people will likely be surprised by is the extent to which the IRS has not complied with its own rules,” Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee told reporters.
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Committee chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat, said a redacted summary of Trump’s tax returns would be released within days. Democrats have little time to act, as Republicans are expected to take control of the House in January.
It wasn’t clear whether the material would shed light on potential conflicts between Trump’s real estate holdings and his actions as president, or how much tax he paid on the hundreds of millions of dollars his businesses earned while he was president. Lawmakers said returns were thin on the details.
“I think you’d be surprised at how little there is,” Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett told CNN.
Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the panel, told reporters some of those returns were still being tested, so it wasn’t clear how much taxes Trump would have to pay. Like other Republicans on the committee, he voted against their release on the grounds that it could set a bad precedent.
Two reports will be released later Tuesday evening, the committee members said: one from the committee itself and one from the Joint Committee on Taxation, a non-partisan body that analyzes the impacts of tax provisions in legislation. They will include a memo from Neal about the purpose of Trump’s original tax filing request, audit notes and proposed legislation to codify the presidential audit program into law, committee members said Tuesday evening.
Trump, unlike previous presidential candidates, has refused to make his tax returns public as he seeks to keep details of his wealth and the assets of his real estate company, the Trump Organization, under wraps, and has fought efforts by Democrats to access it.
Trump said he can’t release his tax returns because they’re being reviewed by the IRS. Tax experts have said that’s not a valid excuse.
Neal declined to comment on whether or not Trump was sincere.
Candidates aren’t required by law to release their tax returns, but previous presidential hopefuls on both sides have done so voluntarily for several decades.
Democrats on the committee said they need to see those documents to assess whether the Internal Revenue Service is properly reviewing presidential tax returns and to assess whether new legislation is needed.
Another House committee on Monday asked federal prosecutors to prosecute Trump for sparking the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Republicans are expected to dissolve or redirect that panel when they take control of the chamber.
Trump, who served as president from 2017 to 2021, reported heavy losses from his business ventures for several years to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, according to media reports and court testimony about his finances. This allowed him to pay very little in taxes.
The Trump Organization was found guilty on December 6 in New York of carrying out a 15-year criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities. The company faces up to $1.6 million in fines, even though Trump himself is not personally liable. He said the case was politically motivated and the company intends to appeal.
He also faces a separate fraud lawsuit in New York accusing him of artificially inflating the value of his assets.
During his presidency, he faced persistent questions about conflicts of interest, as foreign dignitaries and Republican Party officials spent money at his luxury hotels.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Christopher Cushing)