House Democrats Have Begun the Process of Obtaining Trump’s Tax Returns

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House Democrats Have Begun the Process of Obtaining Trump’s Tax Returns

Richard Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, has officially requested Trump’s tax returns from 2013 to 2018. The best part about it? This request isn’t to Trump, but to the IRS. There’s nothing the orange goblin haunting the West Wing can do about this.

The IRS has until April 10 to respond, and Neal did not limit his request to Trump’s tax returns, as The Washington Post elaborated:

Neal also sought information from entities within Trump’s sprawling business empire.

One of them, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, is an umbrella entity that controls more than 100 other businesses, including his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. Some of those businesses also own a variety of Trump’s homes, hotels, golf clubs, his properties in Scotland and his namesake hotel in downtown Washington.

Neal also made requests of DTTM Operations LLC and DTTM Operations Managing Member Corp, which own a number of other Trump LLCs. These businesses collect licensing fees from various Trump-branded products. On his personal financial disclosures, Trump has never reported any income from these entities.

Timothy O’Brien, who wrote a book in 2005 titled TrumpNation which asserted that Trump’s net worth was between $150 and $250 million, was sued by Trump to the tune of $5 billion over that claim. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009 and an appeals court upheld the verdict in 2011. Today, O’Brien wrote in Bloomberg:

Trump unsuccessfully sued me in 2006 for libel over a biography I wrote called “TrumpNation,” citing unflattering sections of the book that examined his business record and wealth. He lost the suit in 2011, and during the litigation he was forced to turn over his tax returns to my lawyers.

As I noted in 2016, I think there are five broad categories of disclosure related to his returns that should matter to voters, politicians, and anyone else interested in making sure the White House is conflicts-of-interest free.

The five categories from Trump’s tax returns highlighted by O’Brien are Trump’s income (which would let us know whether Trump has a serious cash flow stemming from his businesses), his business activities (which would give us a sense of the size and scope of the Trump Organization), his “charitable giving” (which should be enlightening given that his charitable giving arm, the Trump Foundation, shut down amidst a fraud investigation by the state of New York), his tax planning (which would tell us if he used shell companies to hide money), and transparency and accountability (which O’Brien says may be “the most important category of all,” given his potential conflicts of interest while sitting in the most powerful seat in the world).

Trump eschewed standard presidential protocol and didn’t release his tax returns because he figured they would be damaging to him. If his tax returns showed complete and total exoneration on all the legal sketchiness Trump finds himself adjacent to, and proved that he was in fact a billionaire, he would tattoo them on to his face. Instead, the president (almost surely) lies and says he is perpetually under audit and therefore cannot release his tax returns (being under audit does not preclude you from doing this). The only logical reason why Trump is hiding his returns is because they either prove he is not as rich as he claims to be and/or they expose him to criminal liability. With any luck, in a week we will have our answers as to why the President of the United States does not want us to see how he makes his money.

Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.

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