One day after being picked as Hillary’s #2, Tim Kaine asks, ‘Where are Donald Trump’s tax returns?’ He isn’t the only one asking, of course, just the newest voice.
And while we’re on the subject of taxes, where are Donald Trump’s tax returns?,” Kaine asked. “Raise your hand if you think that those returns would show (that) he’s paid his fair share of taxes. I don’t see a lot of hands.”
Even Trump’s own party has asked, ironically including Mitt Romney. Trump secured the Republican nomination even though some Republicans had urged convention delegates to abstain from voting if Trump failed to release his tax returns. Others have warned that someone at the IRS or elsewhere would leak Trump’s returns. Trump already suggested that the IRS might be targeting him with audits. Up until now, of course, candidates have released their tax returns as a matter of good practice. The law does not require it, but the public and pundits are used to the tradition. It is part of the ‘nothing to hide’ candidate vetting.
Yet Trump is unapologetic about his tax returns, and about paying as little in taxes as he can. Trump says one reason is wasteful government spending. Trump has highlighted $4 billion in IRS refunds to illegals and many other abuses. But do these things have anything to do with his own tax returns? Not really.
Some of Trump’s returns are still under audit, and many tax professionals agree that releasing returns under audit is not wise. If released to the public, everyone will pick through the returns mercilessly, including commentators and political foes. Apart from the political fallout, such a review would probably give the IRS ideas, pointing out audit issues the IRS missed. Even tax returns that are not under audit could be impacted via carryover items from one year to the next.
Months ago, Trump’s campaign released a letter from his tax lawyers confirming the ongoing IRS audit for 2009 and later. The letter also said that Mr. Trump’s 2002 through 2008 tax years were audited but closed. The fact that the IRS says that Mr. Trump could decide to release the returns despite an audit does not mean that doing so would be a good idea. Most tax lawyers have said that from a tax viewpoint, Trump should not release the returns until his audit has been completely concluded.
That is from a tax viewpoint. Yet politics is another matter with very different rules, and Trump is running for President. The conventional answer is that Trump should release his tax returns. But Mr. Trump turns convention on its head. Besides, Trump’s tax returns might not tell us much we do not already know. We know he is rich, but he seems to frequently argue that he is richer than we think he is. Reports say he has more than two hundred entities. He says his returns are huge, which they probably are.
They also probably show a lot less of what we might call hard income than he may want us to see. Trump said in an interview that he did not plan to release his returns before the general election. Later, he said he would release the tax returns after his audit. Even that could well change. Nothing seems to sway him, including the fact that a Republican donor offered $5 million for Donald Trump to release his tax returns. It could take an act of Congress to break them free, although the Presidential Tax Transparency bill to require Trump to hand over his tax returns has generated little interest.
For alerts to future tax articles, email me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not legal advice.
via The Tax Lawyer http://ift.tt/2anrrB6