Donald Trump’s tax filings to be made public, votes US House panel

Donald Trump’s six years’ worth of tax returns will be made public after a vote by lawmakers at the US House of Representatives effectively concluded a years-long battle by the former US president to keep his tax filings private. 

The Democratic-led House Wars and Means Committee voted 24-16 to release six years of Trump’s tax filings for the duration covering the period between 2015 to 2020. 

The vote also marks one of the last actions of the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee, whose reins will be handed over to the Republicans two weeks later in January.

Democratic congressman Lloyd Doggett reportedly told CNN a summary report would be sent to the full House of Representatives with analysis from the US Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, along with the raw returns. 

“That may be delayed for a few days, only to permit time for redacting things like social security numbers that kind of thing,” he said.

The legal battle for Trump’s tax filings

The recent vote came after House Wars and Means Committee chairperson Richard Neal won access to the documents, covering 2015-20, at the end of a legal fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court. 

“This was not about being punitive, it was not about being malicious and there were no leaks from the committee,” he said after the vote.

Only a small, select group of lawmakers have seen the returns, which have been subject to privacy laws that made it a felony for anyone to leak details.

The law also allows legislators with responsibility over taxation to examine the returns of any American taxpayer.

What Trump’s tax returns may contain?

Trump’s finances have generated interest reportedly due to the lengths to which he has gone to keep them private.

But a lot of information about Trump’s tax returns is already in the public domain. A New York Times report in 2020 claimed that Trump paid little or no federal income tax for years before he came to power. The report said that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years that were examined and reduced his tax bill with questionable measures. Trump denied the report in 2020, calling it “fake news”.

The returns released by the US Congress, however, could show how much he has given to charity if he has foreign business concerns or other conflicts of interest, and how his businesses were affected by his presidency and the pandemic.

What are the Republicans saying?

The Ways and Means Committee Republicans had warned ahead of Tuesday’s vote that releasing the returns could set a precedent eroding privacy for Americans and enabling unwarranted investigations of political opponents. 

“Democrats will open the door for partisans in Congress to have nearly unlimited power to target political enemies by obtaining and making public their private tax returns,” the panel’s top Republican Kevin Brady said in a statement.

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