Financial Transparency By The President

I have written several articles on our President Trump. A list of the links have been provided at the bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on President Trump’s Presidency.

Presidential candidates have been required to release there tax returns for the last 40 years every since the Watergate Scandal involving President Nixon. After a candidate has entered the presidential election race and has filed his/her initial public financial disclosure report, the candidate must file an annual OGE Public Financial Disclosure Report with the FEC on or before May 15 each successive year in which the individual continues to be a candidate.

Before Trump announced his candidacy for president , he promised to release his tax returns, making pledges for 2011, 2014 and 2015. He said he would also release his tax returns after they were worked on. From 2016 to 2019 he claimed he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and that he could not make them public as long as they were being audited. The commissioner of the IRS stated that there was no law in place preventing Trump from releasing his returns while under an audit by the IRS.Trump is the first major nominee since 1976 not to make his tax returns public.

The Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives made a formal request to the IRS, and later issued a subpoena to the IRS for six years of Trump’s returns to evaluate the extent of the IRS audit. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin defied the subpoena. Upon Trump administration’s refusal to turn over the documents, the Ways and Means Committee filed a suit to enforce the subpoena. That case is currently pending.

Separately, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm for tax records and other records as part of the committee’s investigation of Trump’s finances. Trump sued to block the subpoena, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and later the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia rejected his position. In July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that while Congress can subpoena the President and his papers, the request needs to be reasonably appropriate as to the respect the Separation of Powers between the Legislative and Executive Branch. The Supreme Court also affirmed that the President did not have “Absolute Immunity” from subpoenas.

While there is no law that requires the President to publicly release his tax returns, federal law of IRS Code section 6103(f) does require the president to release his returns to be given to Congress if so requested. Several states are passing legislation requiring Presidential candidates to release their tax returns when they run for that states primary. Not surprisingly these states are Democratically controlled states. President Trump is filing law suits against these states on the Constitutionality of these laws.

I have covered some of these topics in a previous discussion entitled “Financial Disclosure for Politicians”. By law Congress has the right to request the Tax Returns of the President and candidates. The extent of the financial data required by Congress is extreme, even more than required to file your tax returns. It seems like a witch hunt, and a abuse of power by Congress. It seems that it can be used as a tool against an unpopular president or politician. The question is do I agree with the refusal of President Trump to release his financial records to Congress, the answer is I don’t. I believe his refusal to do so simply fans the flames of the fire. He is spending enormous amounts of his own money fighting these subpoenas and tax payers dollars as well. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do. His refusal to release his records gives the impression that he has something to hide.

Trump Postings