Presidents aren’t required by law to release their tax returns. Nevertheless, between 1974 and 2012, every president but Gerald Ford has made a voluntary release of the tax returns they filed while in office. Ford released no complete returns, but released 10 years of summary data including gross income, taxable income, major deductions, and taxes paid.
This tradition of voluntary tax return disclosure ended in 2017, when President Trump declined to release any personal tax information. Trump has offered various reasons for keeping his returns private, but he has frequently insisted that he won’t make a release while his returns are being audited by the IRS.
2. Are all presidents’ tax returns audited by the IRS?
Since 1977 the Internal Revenue Manual has required that every tax return filed by a sitting president or vice president be subject to an audit. According to IRS officials at the time, the new policy was established “in the interest of sound administration” and in light of “everything that has happened in the past.”
While Trump may be unwilling to release presidential tax returns currently under audit, that’s a prudential decision, not a legal one. There’s no legal bar to releasing returns that are under examination. In fact, every president from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama released tax returns that were “under audit,” since those returns — generally released publicly within hours of being filed with the IRS — were slated for automatic audit under the IRM.
3. Do presidents release tax returns covering every year they are in office?
Not exactly. Typically, presidents have released tax returns that they filed while actually holding office. That means the first return filed and released by a new president has covered the year before his inauguration. Similarly, returns covering the last year of a president’s final term haven’t typically been released since they were filed after that president had left office.
Typically, presidents have released tax returns that they filed while actually holding office. President Bill Clinton is the exception to that rule, since his joint returns filed after his presidency were then released by Hillary Clinton when she made her 2008 bid for the Democratic nomination.
4. Why did presidents begin to make voluntary disclosures of tax returns in 1974?
The tradition of voluntary tax return disclosure began with a scandal. In 1973 journalists discovered information suggesting that President Richard Nixon had taken large, hard-to-defend deductions on his individual tax returns. After months of media speculation (based chiefly on documents that came to light in an unrelated court case), someone at the IRS leaked information from the president’s returns confirming that he had paid just $792.81 in federal income taxes for 1970 and $878.03 for 1971 — despite having an income of more than $200,000 each year.
To help quell the ensuing uproar — which occasioned Nixon’s oft-quoted insistence that “I am not a crook” — the president decided to make a public release of his tax returns for 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. That tax disclosure was the first made by a sitting U.S. president. (While running for president in 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower disclosed a few key elements of his tax history, but no complete returns.)
Ford, Nixon’s vice president, didn’t release complete tax returns after taking office in the wake of Nixon’s resignation. Ford released a nine-year summary of his tax data when running for president in 1975 and 1976. But starting with Carter, every president through Obama has made an annual disclosure of the tax return he filed during each year in which he held office.
5. Which presidential returns are available in the presidential tax returns archive? Do you have them all?
The archive includes returns disclosed by every president from Nixon through Obama, with the exception of Ford. (Since Ford released only summary tax data, the archive includes a summary.)
The archive doesn’t include any complete presidential tax returns filed by Trump, because he has opted not to release them. However, it includes Trump’s Form 1040 for 2005, which was leaked to the DCReport.org website and later published widely. In a statement, the White House confirmed the accuracy of key figures from this 2005 partial return.
The archive includes returns filed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Those returns weren’t released during either president’s lifetime, but were later made available by their respective presidential libraries.
6. Which vice presidential and candidate tax returns are available in the archive
The archive includes returns filed by Vice Presidents Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, and Mike Pence. For Cheney, all but one of the returns (filed jointly with his wife) are incomplete, consisting of only a Form 1040. In 2001 the Cheneys released only a press statement summarizing their 2000 return. Returns filed by Pence were released while he was running in the 2016 election. Because Pence has released no returns since taking office, the last return available in the archive is for 2015. Like Trump, Cheney has cited ongoing audits as an explanation for his refusal to release later returns. Returns filed by Vice Presidents Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, and some by Al Gore aren’t in the archive. The returns, however, were publicly released by those officials while they held office. They are unavailable now, and we hope to add them to the archive eventually.
For primary candidates and major party nominees, we have returns (or return portions) covering the 2012, 2016, and 2020 election cycles.
7. How many tax returns do candidates typically release?
The number of returns released by presidential candidates varies widely, from a low of zero (Donald Trump) to a high of 33 (Jeb Bush). There is no “typical” or “standard” number of released returns, since disclosures have varied dramatically even within an election cycle.
Even the number of returns released by major party nominees has differed widely.
|0 (summary data)
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush
George W. Bush
George W. Bush
|Sources: Contemporaneous media coverage; Julie Jennings, “Memorandum: Federal Tax Returns Disclosed by Selected Nominees for President and Vice President Since 1916,” Congressional Research Service (Jan. 30, 2019); Ryan Kelly, “Chart: Presidential Candidates’ Tax Returns,” Roll Call (Oct. 21, 2016).|
Disclosures have also varied considerably in their completeness. While all major party presidential nominees through the 2012 election released complete (or nearly complete) returns, several candidates in 2016 chose to release only their Form 1040, omitting other required elements of their tax returns, including various schedules and forms.
8. What happened to the tradition of voluntary disclosure?
The voluntary tradition of tax return disclosure — by candidates, nominees, vice presidents, and presidents — was strong until 2016. President Trump’s decision to keep his tax returns private was the most serious challenge to this tradition, but it wasn’t the only one. The decision in 2016 by several candidates in both parties to release incomplete returns was a break with the usual practice of full disclosure. Moreover, while numerous candidates opted for a partial release in 2016, Cheney had already set a precedent for limiting annual disclosures to just a Form 1040.
9. Can Congress compel disclosure?
Whether Congress can compel disclosure of presidential (and vice presidential) tax returns remains to be seen. A law enacted in 1924 empowers key leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees to request tax return information from Treasury, including individual returns filed by just about anyone. Such a request doesn’t necessarily involve public disclosure of the requested information, and indeed, the law requires lawmakers to treat that material confidentially. But the law also gives lawmakers a procedure for making that information public should either committee decide, after a formal vote, that disclosure is warranted.
The Ways and Means Committee is seeking tax returns filed by Trump, as well as returns from several of his businesses and related audit and administrative materials developed by the IRS. To date, Treasury has declined to provide that information, and the standoff seems likely to find its way to a courtroom sometime soon.
The law requires lawmakers to treat tax return information confidentially. But the law also gives lawmakers a procedure for making that information public should either committee decide, after a formal vote, that disclosure is warranted.
In a related development, the House passed legislation in March that would require presidents, vice presidents, and major party nominees for both offices to publicly disclose 10 years of tax returns. The legislation is awaiting action in the Senate.
10. Where else can people find presidential tax returns?
Tax Analysts maintains the largest database of publicly available tax returns released by American national politicians.
In theory, tax returns released by specific presidents and vice presidents should be available in the various presidential libraries scattered around the country. In practice, it can be difficult to retrieve those returns, because their sensitive nature often causes them to be flagged for special security screening. Getting that screening done can take considerable time, given staffing shortages at presidential libraries.
The story for candidate and nominee returns is even worse. Because those returns have typically been released by campaigns, not government agencies, official archiving practices don’t apply. Some released returns can still be found online through various news organizations, which occasionally host returns on their own websites.
For the most part, however, candidate returns tend to disappear from public view once the voting is done; technically public, they become effectively private.
“I believe that we in the United States Congress should start impeachment proceedings. Immediately,” he said, adding: “The politics of this be dammed. When we look at history at what happened when the president started acting like an authoritarian. The question is what will we have done? And I believe the Congress should do its job.” “I just want to make sure whatever we do doesn’t end up with an acquittal by [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell in the Senate and President Trump is saying he was acquitted by the Congress. I belief we have a moral obligation to beat Donald Trump. He has to be a single term president. And we can’t do anything that plays into his hands.” But Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was more cautious.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “It’s obvious the president committed the crimes worthy of impeachment.” Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who has said her Justice Department, if elected president, would go forward with obstruction of justices charges against Trump, was the first to elaborate. “We all watched the testimony [former special counsel Robert Muelle], I read the report,” she said. “There are 10 clear incidents of obstruction of justice by this president and he needs to be held accountable. I have seen people go to prison for far less.” Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey agreed. Former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development also was in favor of punishment. “I was first of candidate to call on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings,” he said, adding: “I believe that the evidence is plain and clear. And if it goes that far, you’re likely to see a prosecution of Donald Trump.” The progressive Democrats on the stage Wednesday night for the second round of debates among presidential candidates were all in favor of tossing President Donald Trump in jail.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also resigned from a planning committee in protest. Caucus members said they will also boycott the rest of a weeklong series of events marking the 400th anniversary and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia’s capital. Trump’s comments about Cummings were the latest rhetorical shot at a lawmaker of color to spark outrage. Earlier this month, Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his call for four Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now.” Caucus chair Del. Lamont Bagby said in an interview the group unanimously reached the boycott decision more than a week ago. But he said the president has “continued his attacks” since then and his remarks about Cummings’ district were more of the same. Virginia’s black state lawmakers announced Monday they will boycott a ceremony this week commemorating the beginnings of American democracy because President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend. Trump will join national and state leaders and dignitaries at Tuesday’s event, a commemorative session of the Virginia General Assembly at which Trump is to deliver remarks. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday that the caucus was pushing “a political agenda.” “The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” the caucus said in a statement. The convening of a legislative assembly in 1619 formed the basis of today’s representative system of government in the United States. The Virginia General Assembly is considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America. The caucus’ statement did not specifically mention Cummings but said Trump’s “repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history.” When the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported earlier in the month that Trump would take part in the event, top Democratic lawmakers said they would not attend. Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said at the time that their decision was “disappointing and embarrassing.” The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said its members would not attend Tuesday’s event in historic Jamestown marking the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere. The boycott comes after Trump’s weekend comments referring to Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black Baltimore-area district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Tuesday’s events are just one part of a yearlong commemoration called American Evolution meant to honor key milestones in the state’s colonial history, including the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded Africans in English North America. “President Trump passed criminal justice reform, developed opportunity zones securing record-setting investment in distressed communities, and pushed policies that created the lowest unemployment rates ever for African Americans, so it’s a bit confusing and unfortunate that the VLBC would choose to push a political agenda instead of celebrate this milestone for our nation,” she said in a statement.
In January, Coats again was reportedly in Trump’s dog house when he told a Senate committee that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, which contradicted the president’s more optimistic view. At last year’s Aspen Security Forum, Coats reportedly angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president’s ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer slammed on Sunday President Donald Trump’s choice of Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, The Hill reported. “It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller ” Schumer said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the successor for Coats “must put patriotism before politics, and remember that his oath is to protect the Constitution and the American people, not the President.” Trump had reportedly soured on Coats several times during his tenure. Axios reported that Trump was impressed by Ratcliffe’s performance during his questioning of Mueller at congressional hearings on Wednesday. Sen Eliabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, added in a tweet that “Our Director of National Intelligence should be above partisan politics, speak truth to power, and resist Trump’s abuses of authority. John Ratcliffe doesn’t fit that bill.” It is not yet clear how the Senate overall will react to Ratcliffe’s nomination, according to The Hill. However, his membership in the House Intelligence Committee will likely appeal to Republican senators.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., faces a challenge for re-election from a 30-year-old Massachusetts mayor campaigning on the House Ways and Means Committee chairman’s inaction on obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns, NBC News reported. “So, when you look at the timing here, we’re now very unlikely to see any result before the 2020 election, because Congressman Neal dragged his feet. We also have people in New York that have worked tirelessly to give the American people access to his New York state tax returns.” “I think his action is emblematic of a kind of leader, or lack thereof, that’s he’s been over the last 30 years,” Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse told NBC News about Neal’s authority to obtain President Trump’s state returns. Rep. Neal has held off using the New York state law to obtain his state tax returns because it might jeopardize the ability to obtain federal returns, according to the report. President Trump filed a federal lawsuit this week to block Rep. Neal from using the state law to obtain the federal return. “I know people here in western Massachusetts, and people around the country, are frustrated with the way in which he’s handled this issue from day one. I mean, Democrats took back the House, and it took [months] to put a letter together. I know it doesn’t take us that long to put letters together at City Hall when we have to look at legal issues. “It’s unfortunate that there are folks who aren’t living what he’s living, making statements and comments and Monday morning quarterbacking the situation,” a source told NBC News of Rep. Neal.
Recently leaked documents are raising new concerns surrounding Chinese tech giant Huawei. On Monday, leaked internal documents obtained by the Washington Post revealed Huawei worked with a Chinese-state owned tech firm for at least eight years on a variety of projects centered in North Korea. One of those projects included the development and maintaining of the country’s first commercial 3G wireless network.
The detailed spread sheet was shared by a former Huawei employee, who claimed the information is of public interest. However, the person’s identity has not been released out of fear of retaliation.
If the reports are true it would bring up a new conflict between the U.S. and China as such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to send equipment to North Korea.
The documents appear to confirm what U.S. officials have long feared — that Huawei is a national security risk.
“…you’ve seen…our effort to ensure that the networks in which American information flows are trusted, that we understand where that information is going, who’s the end user, and wanting to make sure the information doesn’t end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
— Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State
This latest development comes after the Trump administration agreed in June to lift some sanctions on the company, allowing U.S. companies to sell certain products to the the Chinese tech giant.
According to the Washington Post, Huawei has not directly responded to the report, but a spokesperson said the company does not have business in North Korea.
UPDATED 10:39 AM PT – Friday, July 19, 2019
The Justice Department has announced an overhaul to the federal criminal justice system as momentum behind the bipartisan First Step Act takes effect. The department has already rolled out key elements of the law. In a landmark display, President Trump will give 2,200 non-violent federal inmates what he calls “a second chance at life.”
“We will have done something that hasn’t been done in many many years and it’s the right thing to do,” he stated.
The plan includes a risk and needs assessment program, which is the cornerstone upon which inmates qualify for freedom. Offenders must have a history of good behavior and complete the assessment in order to have their release dates recalculated. The course reportedly includes everything from community transition awareness, job training, and re-offending prevention among other criteria.
Back in 2018, President Trump said this will reduce crime and mainly allow low-level drug offenders a chance at redemption.
“Prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption, so if something happens and they make a mistake they get a second chance at life,” he explained.
The Trump administration has also tapped the private sector to help inmates reenter society by helping them find jobs and housing after release. The effort is being applauded by civil rights groups, who say the measure aims to undo tough-on-crime policies which disproportionately affected minorities and nonviolent offenders back in the 80’s and 90’s.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and other Democrats united in condemning President Trump on Wednesday night after the crowd at a North Carolina “Make America Great Again” rally broke out in a striking chant of “send her back” while the president criticized Omar and other members of the so-called progressive Democrat “squad.”
The three words referred to Trump’s tweet on Sunday in which the president said unnamed “Democrat Congresswomen” should go back and fix the “corrupt” and “crime infested places” from which they came and then “come back and show us how it’s done.”
The president later all but affirmed he was referring to Omar, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley — all of whom, except Omar, were born in the United States. After a historic floor fight, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives formally condemned Trump’s comments as “racist” on Tuesday.
“Let ’em leave … they’re always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don’t love it, tell ’em to leave it,” Trump said at the rally, doubling down on his earlier comments.
In response on Wednesday evening, Omar quoted civil rights activist and poet Maya Angelou on Twitter: “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
She also retweeted a post from California Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, calling out the “racist chant” and urging people to “vote, donate & organize like never before” to save “the soul of our country.”
Omar also retweeted Minnesota State Sen. Matt Klein’s message of support.
“Congresswoman Omar is staying here,” Klein wrote. “I welcome your opinions on her policies. But if you think you are more American than her, you don’t know what America is, and it is you that should leave.”
In his wide-ranging rally Wednesday, Trump went point-by-point, member-by-member, as he unloaded on the squad. Trump specifically slammed Omar saying she “smeared U.S. service members in ‘Black Hawk Down.’ She slandered the brave Americans trying to keep peace in Somalia” — a dig at her Somali-American heritage.
Trump also said Omar blamed America for the economic crisis in Venezuela and refused to condemn Al Qaeda.
Trump then moved on to his critique of Tlaib, saying she “used the F-word to describe the presidency and your president.”
“That’s not nice, even for me,” Trump said. “That’s not somebody who loves our country.”
The president then took aim at Ocasio-Cortez, whom he mocked for her “three different names” as well as saying she inaccurately described the migrant holding facilities at the southern border as concentration camps.
Of Pressley, Trump said the Massachusetts congresswoman “thinks that people with the same skin color all need to think the same. She said, ‘we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be brown voices, we don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice,'” a reference to remarks Pressley gave at a conference this past weekend. “Can you imagine if I said that?”
At the top of his remarks Wednesday night, Trump celebrated the House’s decision to shelve impeachment proceedings against him.
“I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I ever worked on,” Trump said, referring to an impeachment resolution proposed by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, that was widely opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other top Democrats.
“The resolution — How stupid is that? — on impeachment.”
Trump called the 332-95 vote to sideline the impeachment resolution Wednesday “totally lopsided” and a “slaughter,” and instead touted the strong economy and low unemployment numbers under his administration.
“And they want to try and impeach,” he said. “It’s a disgrace.”
Fox New’s Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand accuses President Trump of broken promises in the first TV commercial of her Democratic presidential bid.
Behind in the polls, the senator from New York’s campaign on Tuesday announced what they touted as the “first anti-Trump television attack ad of the 2020 presidential cycle.”
Gillibrand aides said that the 30-second spot, titled “I Promise,” will run on cable TV and digital this week in the media markets in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio; and Detroit, Lansing and Flint, Mich. Those media markets mirror a campaign bus tour Gillibrand will make on Thursday and Friday through the three Rust Belt states.
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan – won by former President Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections – were flipped from blue to red in 2016, helping Trump win the White House.
The commercial highlights what Gillibrand calls Trump’s broken promises on restoring manufacturing jobs, lowering prescription drug prices and building up the nation’s infrastructure.
The ad starts with a clip of Trump from the 2016 presidential campaign saying “if I’m elected you won’t lose one plant. You’ll have plants coming into this country. You’re going to have jobs again. I promise.”
The spot then uses a clip of Trump saying “you’ll be seeing drug prices falling very substantially. I promise,” followed by a third clip of Trump vowing “we will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, I promise.”
The words “NO MORE BROKEN PROMISES” then flashes across the screen before Gillibrand emphasizes in a clip that “as president, I will take on the fights no one else will.”
The Gillibrand campaign tells Fox News that five figures are being spent to run the commercial over two days on both cable TV and digital.
The senator, who launched her White House bid in January, has struggled in the polls as she’s tried unsuccessfully — so far — to stand out from the historically large field of nearly two-dozen Democratic presidential contenders
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Rep. Ilhan Omar admitted that she may have embellished part of the story she told to high school students in an apparent attempt to showcase racial and economic disparities in the country.
The Minnesota Democrat recently told hundreds of Richfield High School students that about five years ago, when she was working as a Minneapolis city councilman, she witnessed an example of injustice that shook her to the core.
She recalled a “sweet, old… African-American lady” who was detained for a whole weekend for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter,” according to the Washington Post, and screamed an expletive in court after the woman was fined $80 for the crime.
“I couldn’t control my emotions,” Omar told students, “because I couldn’t understand how a roomful of educated adults could do something so unjust.”
“I couldn’t control my emotions because I couldn’t understand how a roomful of educated adults could do something so unjust.”
“Omar’s story echoed the plot of ‘Les Miserables.’ If true, it is also probably embellished,” the newspaper claimed. “City officials said that police aren’t allowed to arrest people for shoplifting unless there’s a likelihood of violence or further crime. Typically, shoplifters are sentenced to attend a three-hour class.”
Omar apparently “flubbed some facts” when telling the story to the students and told the newspaper that the woman may have not been just a one-time innocent shoplifter.
“She might have had a prior [arrest],” Omar said. “I’m not sure…The details might not have all matched, but that’s what I remember.”
“She might have had a prior [arrest]. I’m not sure…The details might not have all matched, but that’s what I remember.”
Omar has been reeling from a number of controversies ever since getting elected into Congress. She’s part of the freshmen progressive Democrats, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that have clashed with the party’s leadership on multiple issues.
Omar fired back at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she criticized the freshmen Democrats for voting against the $4.6 billion border bill signed into law last week by President Trump by saying “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world … They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
“Patetico! You know they’re just salty about WHO is wielding the power to shift ‘public sentiment’ these days, sis,” Omar tweeted. “Sorry not sorry.”