CNN’s Jake Tapper examines President Donald Trump’s claims about his tax returns in this week’s fact-checking video.
After Democrats won the House majority in the midterm elections, opening the possibility they might issue a subpoena to obtain the president’s tax returns, a reporter asked the president about his refusal to release them. The issue dates back to the 2016 campaign, when Trump, unlike every other major party candidate for president since 1980, declined to make his returns public.
In the Nov. 7 press conference, Trump reiterated that he wouldn’t release his tax returns because they were under audit. He said “you get far more” from the legally required financial disclosure forms he had filed “than you could ever get from a tax return.” But such forms don’t reveal effective tax rates, charitable giving and how the president complies with, or benefits from, tax laws.
Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax Analysts’ Tax History Project, told us the financial disclosure form, which includes assets and liabilities, does a better job of showing net worth, but it has “no information about the president’s tax behavior,” including a “sense of how he structured his businesses to minimize his taxes.”
Trump also wrongly claimed, “Nobody turns over a return when it’s under audit, okay?” Richard Nixon did when he was president.
In the midst of a tax scandal in late 1973, the IRS reopened an audit of Nixon’s returns. And during that audit, the White House released tax returns for several years, according to a paper on the issue by Thorndike.
Also, most presidents since the 1970s have released their tax returns publicly despite the fact that presidents and vice presidents are automatically subject to annual IRS audits, according to the Internal Revenue Manual.