The IRS failed to conduct timely mandatory audits of Trump’s taxes while he was president | Donald Trump

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) failed to conduct timely mandatory audits of Donald Trump during his presidency, a congressional committee found Tuesday, raising questions about statements by the former president and members of his administration who claimed they did not could release. his tax returns due to such ongoing audits.

A Democratic majority report on the House Ways and Means Committee found that the Trump administration may have ignored an IRS requirement dating back to 1977 that mandates audits of a president’s tax returns. The IRS began auditing Trump’s 2016 tax returns on April 3, 2019, more than two years into his presidency and months after Democrats took over the House. That date coincides with Richard Neal, the committee’s chairman, asking the IRS for information on Trump’s tax returns.

There was no indication that Trump, who has announced a third presidential bid, sought to directly influence the IRS or dissuade it from reviewing his tax returns. But the report found the vetting process was “inert, at best”.

The 29-page report was released hours after the committee voted along party lines to release Trump’s tax returns, raising the possibility of additional revelations related to the finances of a businessman who broke political norms by refusing to voluntarily release his returns as he sought the presidency. . . The vote was the culmination of a years-long battle between Trump and Democrats, from the campaign trail to Congress and the Supreme Court.

The Democratic Ways and Means Committee argued that transparency and the rule of law are at stake. Republicans said the release would set a dangerous precedent.

“This is about the presidency, not the president,” Neal told reporters.

Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the committee, said: “Over our opposition objections, Democrats have unleashed a dangerous new political weapon that is overturning decades of privacy protections. The era of political targeting and congressional enemy lists is back, and every American, every American taxpayer, who might be on the wrong side of the majority in Congress is now at risk.”

Trump spent much of Tuesday releasing statements unrelated to his tax returns. The IRS did not immediately comment. An accompanying report released by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation also found repeated flaws in the IRS’s approach to auditing Trump and his companies.

IRS agents did not bring in experts to assess the complex structure of Trump’s holdings. They also determined that the limited examination was warranted because Trump hired an accounting firm that they assumed would ensure that Trump “properly reports all income and deductions.”

“We must express our disagreement with the decision not to hire specialists when dealing with returns with a high degree of complexity,” the tax commission said. “We also do not understand why the fact that the consultant and an accounting firm were involved in the tax preparation ensures the accuracy of the returns.”

The reports revisited one of the biggest questions surrounding Trump: Why did he abandon the post-Watergate tradition of White House hopefuls releasing their tax returns?

Trump and those around him have consistently said that IRS audits prevented him from doing so.

“I’d love to give them, but I’m not going to while I’m in control,” Trump said on April 10, 2019.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Trump simply made up this excuse on his campaign plane in 2016.

No law would prevent Trump from releasing his statements if he was under scrutiny. It remains unclear whether he was referring to the mandatory process aimed specifically at presidents or reviews typical of the wealthy.

The Times found that before entering the White House, Trump was facing an IRS audit possibly linked to a $72.9 million tax refund stemming from $700 million in losses claimed in 2009. Documents released Tuesday showed Trump continued to collect tax benefits on these losses through 2018.

“What happened?” said Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “If it wasn’t resolved, the IRS stopped. If it was decided in Trump’s favor, then maybe the IRS would roll over and play dead. That’s what we need to learn.”

The report raised red flags about Trump’s deposits, including carryover losses, deductions tied to conservation and charitable donations, and loans to his children that could be taxable gifts.

The Ways and Means Committee is proposing legislation to strengthen the IRS by requiring an initial report no later than 90 days after a president’s tax returns are filed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would “move quickly” on the legislation.

Democrats argue that the IRS is ill-equipped to audit the complex tax returns of high-income earners and instead targets applicants in lower income brackets.

“Because of the defunding of the IRS, they haven’t been able to do their job,” said Steven Horsford, of Nevada. “They didn’t have the specialized staff to do it for that high-income bracket — not just that person, but people in that bracket.”

Republicans have vowed to cut a recent influx of funding for IRS agents — the first bill they will consider once they win the House majority.

It’s been a rough week for Trump. On Monday, the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee voted to impeach the justice department for its role in sparking the attack on the Capitol. He also faces an investigation in Atlanta for efforts to sway the election results.

The Trump Organization was convicted earlier this month of tax fraud for helping executives avoid taxes on perks like condos and luxury cars. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said last week that his office’s investigation into Trump and his businesses is continuing.

“We will follow the facts and continue to do our job,” Bragg said.

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