Donald Trump is facing backlash over the revelation that his tax records show he was not being audited during years that he previously claimed audits prevented him from releasing the records.
The Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted to publicly release six years of the former president’s long-sought tax returns on Tuesday. The long legal battle for the records ended last month, when a Supreme Court decision finally authorized the release of the documents to Congress.
Trump bucked tradition by refusing to release his tax records when he first ran for president in 2016, claiming that he couldn’t due to an ongoing IRS audit. He continued to claim that he was being audited throughout his presidency, while thwarting congressional efforts to obtain the records.
Although IRS policy requires mandatory audits for presidents, a report released by the committee on Tuesday shows that only one year of Trump’s taxes were audited during his presidency, when his return for the 2016 tax year was designated for audit in 2019.
Following the revelation, committee members and critics of the former president blasted him.
“Tonight we learned the IRS failed to follow the law and did not audit Donald Trump for years,” tweeted Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., who serves on the committee. “Oh yeah, and trump was lying when he said he was under audit.”
On at least one occasion in 2018, when records show that his taxes were not being audited, Trump said that he was under a “continuous audit” and argued that his records should not be released because “people wouldn’t understand them.”
“Wait…I was under the impression that Trump was under continuous audits???” Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen tweeted. “BULLS*** as usual!!! Only one Trump tax return as president got mandatory IRS audit, report says.”
“Remember how Trump claimed he couldn’t release his tax returns because they were under audit?” tweeted the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Well, turns out none of that was true. The IRS didn’t audit his taxes during his first two years in office. Even though audits of the president’s taxes are mandatory.”
“The IRS is required to audit presidential tax returns,” American Enterprise Institute Emeritus scholar Norman Ornstein tweeted. “The corrupt Charles Rettig presided over the agency as it failed to audit Trump’s returns for his first two years in the presidency. He pledged under oath to follow the law. He lied. Prosecute him.”
“Democrats revealed the IRS was not auditing Trump, the reason he claimed he couldn’t release his tax returns,” talk radio host and author Michelangelo Signorile tweeted. “He lied. What a shocker.”
The people obsessed with @ggreenwald and @mtaibbi cherry-picking e-mails for the #TwitterFiles dumps regarding Hunter’s laptop are the same people who never cared that the Trump WH spent two years lying about Trump’s returns being under mandatory presidential audit,” tweeted national security attorney Bradley P. Moss.
“Everyone who called for Trump to release his tax returns was right,” tweeted David Corn, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Mother Jones. “He publicly said he would do so—and then refused, lying that he couldn’t b/c he was being audited. His failure to do so was one of his first attacks on transparency & good-govt norms. It showed who & what he was.”
The Ways and Means Committee’s report also recommended that the IRS policy of mandatory tax audits for sitting presidents be codified into law to “ensure the integrity of the IRS, enable IRS employees to fully audit all issues, and restore confidence in the Federal tax system.”
“The @WaysMeansCmte’s solemn oversight work has revealed the urgent need for legislation to ensure the public can trust in real accountability and transparency during the audit of a sitting president’s tax returns – not only in the case of President Trump but for any president,” tweeted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.