For years, Americans couldn’t escape hearing about former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and why, despite years of precedence, he refused to release them. Trump repeatedly cited it was because he was being audited, but a House committee report reveals the IRS actually failed to audit him as president when it was required.
According to the latest report from the House Committee of Ways and Means, the IRS neglected to audit Trump for most of his time in office, despite a rule dating back to 1977 that requires mandatory tax examinations of all sitting presidents and vice presidents. The rule was spurred by a Watergate-era tax scandal surrounding former President Richard Nixon.
“The designated agents found that there was only one mandatory audit started and none completed during [Trump’s] four years in office. Clearly, the mandatory audit program was dormant, at best, during the prior Administration,” the report read.
The House Ways and Means Committee reported the IRS did not complete a single mandatory audit of President Trump’s tax returns while he was in office.
There’s no suggestion in the report that Trump tried to influence the IRS in any way. In fact, the IRS commissioner through most of Trump’s first year in office, John Koskinen, was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
It appears a move that did have at least some influence on the IRS was Democrats taking control of the House and its committees in 2019.
“Notably, the IRS sent a letter to the former President notifying him that his tax year 2015 return was selected for examination on April 3, 2019, which is the date the Chairman sent the initial request to the IRS for the former President’s return information and related tax returns,” the report authors wrote.
But aside from the one mandatory audit selected later that year, the remaining returns did not come up for examination until after Trump left office, according to the committee.
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
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SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: FOR YEARS, WE COULDN’T GET AWAY FROM HEARING ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS. AND WHY, DESPITE YEARS OF PRECEDENCE, THE FORMER PRESIDENT WOULDN’T RELEASE THEM.
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: we’re under audit despite what people said we’re working that out, i’m always under audit it seems.
SIMONE DEL ROSARIO: SEEMS NOT.
ACCORDING TO THE LATEST HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE REPORT, THE IRS FAILED TO AUDIT THE PRESIDENT FOR MOST OF HIS TIME IN OFFICE, DESPITE A RULE DATING BACK TO 1977 THAT REQUIRES MANDATORY TAX EXAMINATIONS OF ALL SITTING PRESIDENTS AND VICE PRESIDENTS.
THAT RULE WAS SPURRED BY A WATERGATE-ERA TAX SCANDAL SURROUNDING FORMER PRESIDENT NIXON.
BUT ACCORDING TO THE HOUSE COMMITTEE: ONLY ONE MANDATORY AUDIT STARTED AND NONE WERE COMPLETED DURING TRUMP’S FOUR YEARS IN OFFICE. THE AUTHORS SAYING “CLEARLY, THE MANDATORY AUDIT PROGRAM WAS DORMANT, AT BEST, DURING THE PRIOR ADMINISTRATION.”
THERE’S NO SUGGESTION THAT TRUMP TRIED TO INFLUENCE THE IRS IN ANY WAY. IN FACT THE IRS COMMISSIONER THROUGH MOST OF TRUMP’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE HAD BEEN APPOINTED BY FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA.
BUT DEMOCRATS TAKING CONTROL OF THE HOUSE AND ITS COMMITTEES IN 2019 SEEMED TO SPARK THE IRS INTO ACTION, AT LEAST FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
THE REPORT STATES THE IRS SENT A LETTER TO TRUMP NOTIFYING HIM THAT HIS 2015 TAX RETURN WOULD BE EXAMINED THE SAME DAY THIS COMMITTEE INQUIRED TO THE IRS ABOUT HIS RETURNS.
BUT ASIDE FROM THE ONE MANDATORY AUDIT SELECTED LATER THAT YEAR, THE REMAINING RETURNS DIDN’T COME UP FOR EXAMINATION UNTIL AFTER TRUMP LEFT OFFICE.
THE IRS HAS NOT YET RESPONDED TO MY REQUEST FOR COMMENT ON THE REPORT.
I’M SIMONE DEL ROSARIO. IN NEW YORK IT’S JUST BUSINESS.
IRS failed to perform required audits of Trump’s tax returns