But the new ruling makes it clear that regardless of the second look power the ministry has claimed in the past, these walked out the door with Barr. Instead, the committee has to do its job as required by law.
“We have no way of knowing where receiving the requested tax information will lead the committee, any more than the committee can predict what it will find or determine. After reviewing and analyzing the information, it is the sole responsibility of the committee to decide whether to include some of this information in a report to plenary that may be available to the public.
The Ways and Means Committee’s request was originally described as a test of the President’s audit program. As CNN explained in 2017, the president is always audited. Likewise the vice president. There is a “Mandatory inspection” of your returns, which should be carried out quickly with “expeditious processing at all levels in order to ensure a speedy completion of the inspections”. So when Trump kept claiming his returns were being scrutinized, there were two problems. One is that every resident of the White House has been audited every year, and that hadn’t prevented any tax form from being published in decades before Trump. The second is that the return should be done quickly. Trump’s seemingly endless audits were more than enough reason for Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal to make sure things are going as they should be.
What the committee will do with Trump’s returns after looking at the review process is unclear. As the DOJ stated, some of the information could be included in future public reports. Or not.
Back in September 2020, the New York Times received some of Trump’s tax returns and found that they showed:Troubled Real Estate ”,“ Large Depreciation ”and“ Hundreds of Millions of Due Debts ”. They also revealed that Trump’s total tax burden in 2016 was only $ 750 and that Trump has paid no income tax at all in 10 of the last 15 years. These returns also indicated that Trump was still in a dispute with the IRS over a return he had filed a decade earlier. In that return, he had claimed enormous losses and received a tax refund of $ 72.9 million. But the IRS has challenged that refund, and the potential existed then – and could still exist today – for Trump to end up owing over $ 100 million. This longstanding battle also seems to be a good reason for the House Committee to look into how this audit process works.
In February 2021, Trump’s eight year tax returns were subpoenaed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Trump appealed but lost in the district court, and Vance ordered Trump’s accountants to hand over the paperwork. Vance originally launched his investigation by examining former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s payments to two women Trump wanted to keep silent in the run-up to the election. It is not clear how far this investigation will go now.
Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a national security issue. The American people deserve to know the facts about their conflicts of interest and the undermining of our security and democracy as President.
The house will always fight to uncover the truth #ForThePeople.
– Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 30, 2021