Throughout his campaign, and now in the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has refused to make public his tax returns. Every elected president since Richard Nixon has done so, and although Trump has claimed that he is unable to release his returns because of an ongoing audit, the IRS and other experts have repeatedly said that there is no restriction preventing their release.
The tax returns would address several key points of concern:
His actual net worth, which has been reported as $3.7B and self-reported as upwards of $10B. Trump's success and wealth are cornerstones of his brand, although his true net worth is currently unknown.
The amount of tax he pays. Documents released in 2016 showed that he paid no taxes in 1995 and may not have for the following 18 years.
The extent of his foreign holdings, which could become conflicts of interest as he interacts with governments in his official role as president. Making his tax returns public would help sort out the ways Trump could stand to gain personally from foreign policies. Much has been said and written about President Trump's possible violation of the Constitution's Emoluments clause, which prohibits public officials from receiving gifts or payments from other governments. One of the ways to resolve such concerns is through Trump's tax returns.
In particular, the returns would detail Trump's holdings in Russia. The president's relationship with Russia has been under scrutiny since the campaign.
Although President Trump has continued to refuse calls to release his returns, mechanisms are in place to require their release. Congress can subpoena the records from the IRS, which would then become public information. Such a subpoena could be part of an investigation into any of the above issues, particularly an investigation into dealings with Russia.
The stakes are high, and the information in the tax returns could be politically devastating to the president, if it indeed contains proof of unethical behavior or evidence contradicting the president's assertions of no wrongdoing in foreign dealings. One writer has suggested that a subpoena of Trump's tax information would trigger the president's resignation, as he would rather vacate the office than see his tax returns come to light.
Will Donald Trump's tax returns become public information during his current term as president?
This question will resolve as positive if at least one year's worth of Donald Trump's tax returns from within the previous ten years becomes public information by any means (and such information is confirmed as genuine by credible sources) on or before Jan. 20, 2021.