Trump’s taxes: House OKs bill on IRS audits of presidents

Dec 21, 2022, 8:14 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2022, 8:02 am
FILE - Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting ...

FILE - Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means committee in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sept. 26, 2017. The House has taken action after disclosures the IRS never full reviewed Donald Trump’s tax returns during his presidency. The Democratic-controlled House has passed a bill that would require audits of any president’s income tax filings.” The committee's top Republican, Brady, said the bill would infringe on taxpayer privacy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House took action Thursday after disclosures that the IRS never fully reviewed Donald Trump’s tax returns during his presidency, passing a bill that would require audits of any president’s income tax filings. The legislation would turn what had been a long-standing post-Watergate norm into established federal policy.

The Democrat-led measure provides a capstone to a yearslong investigation of Trump’s tenure as the first president in recent history not to disclose his tax returns to the public. The legislation faced staunch opposition from Republicans and has little chance of becoming law in the final days of this Congress. But it is seen as a starting point for future efforts to bolster oversight of the presidency.

“These improved guardrails will provide Americans the assurance they deserve that our tax code applies evenly and fairly to all of us, no matter how powerful,” said Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that led the effort.

The vote was approved 222-201, mostly along party lines.

The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, said the bill would infringe on taxpayer privacy. He said the “unprecedented action jeopardizes the rights of every American to be protected from political targeting.”

The committee’s lengthy investigation revealed this week that the IRS had failed to pursue audits of Trump on a timely basis during his presidency, as required under the tax agency’s protocol. Only when Democrats formally questioned the IRS on April 19, 2019, did the IRS begin its first review, two years into Trump’s tenure.

The findings raised stark questions about Trump’s insistence he could not publicly release his tax returns — as other presidents routinely have done to give people a glimpse into their livelihoods — because he said his filings were under ongoing IRS review. The committee’s report also highlighted shortcomings at the IRS, which has been criticized for auditing lower-income people more often than the rich.

Later this week, the committee is expected to release Trump’s returns after a protracted legal battle with the former president. The wealthy businessman declined to fully explain his finances during his 2016 campaign and while in the White House. It would be the first formal release of his financial situation from his time in office.

“The the purpose of this legislation is to ensure that no American is above the law — even the president of the United States,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., during the debate on the bill.

Five Republicans, including Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., joined Democrats in voting for the bill. All of the five Republicans are either retiring or failed to win their reelections.

The practice of auditing presidential tax returns grew from the Watergate era, when then-President Richard Nixon was under scrutiny by Congress. In 1977, the IRS created the mandatory audit requirement as part of its operations, but the practice was simply the norm, not the law.

When Trump defied traditional presidential practice by refusing to disclose his tax returns it raised questions and spurred the committee’s investigation. The House Ways and Means Committee oversees tax policy, and like all of Congress, is able to provide a check-and-balance on the executive branch.

The bill would require an initial IRS report on a president’s tax returns no later than 90 days from the time they were filed. It would require an updated report on the president’s filings in six months.

The committee’s report found that the IRS did not have sufficient experts on staff able to probe the complex filings of Trump and his associated companies.

The committee’s investigation found “only one mandatory audit was started” of Trump’s tax returns during his presidency “and the program was otherwise dormant, at best.”

Scrutiny of the IRS comes as Republicans, who are preparing to take control of the House in the new year after winning the majority in the midterm elections, have pledged to cut funding to the agency as one of their first moves.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Hinman Glacier...
Associated Press

Washington’s Hinman Glacier gone after thousands of years

The largest glacier between the high peaks of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak has melted away after a long battle with global warming.
7 hours ago
Pierce County substation...
Associated Press

Man accused in holiday substation vandalism released from custody

One of the two men charged with vandalizing electrical substations in Washington state over the holidays to cover a burglary was ordered released from federal custody Friday to seek substance abuse help.
7 hours ago
This combination of photos shows promotional at for "Princess Power," a series premiering Jan 30, "...
Associated Press

New this week: Shania, ‘Princess Power’ and Pamela Anderson

Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music and video game platforms this week. MOVIES — If you haven’t managed to catch “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” yet, the Marvel sequel arrives on Disney+ on Wednesday with a batch of five Oscar nominations to its […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Croatia’s president criticizes tank deliveries to Ukraine

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia’s president on Monday criticized Western nations for supplying Ukraine with heavy tanks and other weapons in its campaign against invading Russian forces, saying those arms deliveries will only prolong the war. Zoran Milanovic told reporters in the Croatian capital that it’s “mad” to believe that Russia can be defeated in […]
1 day ago
A man steers his boat that is used by residents to move around the street flooded with rain water i...
Associated Press

Tropical storm leaves 30 dead, 20 missing in Madagascar

ANTANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Flooding and landslides caused by the passage of tropical storm Cheneso across Madagascar caused 30 deaths, left 20 people missing and affected tens of thousands across the Indian Ocean island nation, according to a provisional assessment Monday. The storm made landfall in the northeast of the island last Thursday and impacted […]
1 day ago
FILE - Trevor Noah appears at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 2021. Noah ...
Associated Press

Trevor Noah returns as Grammy host with comfort, nervousness

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trevor Noah feels more comfortable hosting the Grammy Awards for a third-straight year, but the former “The Daily Show” host still has some nervousness about leading the ceremony with big-time acts like Beyoncé, Adele and Harry Styles looking on. “The nerves come in because you’re standing in front of not just […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Trump’s taxes: House OKs bill on IRS audits of presidents