Democrats release six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns


The House Ways and Means Committee released six years of former President Trump’s business and individual tax returns on Friday, totaling 46 documents with hundreds of pages and more than a gigabyte’s worth of data.

The dump of raw returns comes in the final hours of Democratic control of the House and a week after they were summarized in two congressional reports that found Trump was reporting huge losses, greatly offsetting his tax liability, in some cases reducing it to zero.

The reports from the Ways and Means Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) also found that Trump was not being regularly audited by the IRS, in an apparent violation of IRS policy, which mandates that sitting presidents are to be audited under normal IRS procedures.

Tax experts say they are interested to get a closer look at Trump’s accounting methods and the ways he was able to get out of paying taxes.

Trump reported large business losses, usually in the tens of millions of dollars, in every tax return obtained by the Ways and Means Committee. Several of these losses derive from a larger $105 million loss that was then spread out to reduce Trump’s tax liability.

This is an established accounting practice to get out of paying taxes in the real estate industry, tax experts say.

“The losses seem to be from K-1s (Partner’s share on income and Deductions) received from entities and partnerships that he has shares in,” New York tax attorney Steven Goldburd said. “As a real estate professional he is entitled to take these losses. These losses can be from actual losses, but more likely from real estate depreciation expenses. These entities may not actually [be] losing money, but in fact have the depreciation that are wiping out the partnership’s income.”

Analysts are also looking at foreign bank accounts and payment information that may give a clearer picture of Trump’s relationship abroad.

“I’m going to be looking for things like foreign ownership, foreign accounts, foreign ownership of Trump businesses, payments to foreigners,” Steve Rosenthal, an expert with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said in an interview. “There’s bound to be some items that may yet pop out to external reviewers that [the JCT] missed.”

The Committee released returns on eight of Trump’s nearly 500 business entities. Those eight returns comprise two of Trump’s branding trademarks, three that pertain to his golf club in Bedminster, New York, and two high-level holding companies that contain the others.

“Those two upper-tier entities sit at the top of Trump’s LLC empire. The numbers all roll into those, and I’d like to see some aggregate numbers there,” Rosenthal said.

Democrats released the tax returns as part of a probe into the IRS’s presidential audit program, but Republicans interpret the release as a personal attack against Trump.

“With the publicly released transcript of Democrats’ secret executive session, Americans now have confirmation that there was never a legislative purpose behind the public release of these confidential records and that the IRS was conducting audits prior to Democrats’ request,” Ways and Means Republican leader Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in a statement on Friday.

“Despite these facts, Democrats have charged forward with an unprecedented decision to unleash a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president, overturning decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since Watergate.”

Brady also warned of future committee actions related to the release of personal tax returns. The Ways and Means Committee will be led by Republicans when control of the House switches next week.

“Going forward, all future Chairs of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business and labor leaders or even the Supreme Court justices themselves,” Brady said.

Trump ripped Democratic lawmakers Friday for releasing his tax returns, warning of dire consequences for the nation while touting his ability to avoid paying income taxes.

“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. The great USA divide will now grow far worse,” Trump said in a statement issued shortly after House Democrats released six years of the former president’s tax returns.

“The ‘Trump’ tax 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,” Trump continued.

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