President Donald J. Trump has absolutely no intention of ever showing the public his tax returns. In spite of his promises during the campaign to do just that, he has now made it clear that he was just joshin’ with us.
Trump does not want us to learn the truth about his finances. We wonder why.
A law professor at the University of Virginia, a specialist in tax law, says that Congress has the power to obtain Trump’s tax records. In fact, says Professor George K. Yin, Congress can also make those records public.
“Since the Civil War, when it began requiring taxpayers to submit private information to the government to comply with the tax laws, Congress has struggled to balance the privacy interests of taxpayers with the public’s right to know.”
Eventually, Congress decided that tax information should always stay private and confidential. But they thought the President should have the power to make tax information public if he thought that it would be in the national interest.
More importantly in the current situation, in 1924 Congress gave the same decision making power to some key Congressional committees.
That power was used in 1974 when then President Nixon was accused of failing to pay proper taxes. After a long investigation, the Joint Committee on Taxation chose to release Nixon private tax returns to the public. They felt that the controversy around the returns justified informing the public.
What’s really interesting is that according to Professor Yin’s article, the President can no longer decide to release someone’s taxes. That power was taken away after the Watergate scandal.
Congress, however, can still get and release tax returns if doing so would serve a legitimate committee purpose.
Says the Professor:
“Such a disclosure must be in the public’s interest, and today’s understandable concerns about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest would seem clearly to justify a congressional effort to obtain, investigate and possibly disclose to the public his tax information.
Moreover, as illustrated by the Nixon episode, disclosure would serve the additional purpose of assuring the American public that the new president is not receiving preferential treatment from the IRS.”
So, Congress. Please use the power you’ve been given. Please get ahold of those taxes, and for the love of the Republic, let us see what’s in there.
Featured image via YouTube screengrab.