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 agree with my fellow members of the Washington delegation that, as we have learned about the gravity of the potential threats to our democracy identified in special counsel Mueller’s report, it has become clear that the House should begin proceedings to determine whether the president’s action necessitate impeachment,” Murray said in a statement shared on her website. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Sunday supported an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, a decision fueled by testimony provided by special counsel Robert Mueller last week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said the House would decide whether to begin proceedings, “when we have a best strongest possible case” and that such a decision “will be made in a timely fashion.” Murray, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, joins a growing list of Democrats pushing for impeachment, including all seven of Washington’s Democratic House members. Mueller in his testimony before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees noted the 2000 Justice Department determination that “a sitting president is constitutionally immune from indictment and criminal prosecution.” He also said his team did not reach a determination whether Trump committed a crime.
Hail To American Royalty! Trump Visits English Royalty, How Do you Think It Will Go?
President Trump heads to Europe: Pomp, circumstance, turmoil, ‘fake news’ and remembering D-Day
President Trump is in Europe for a weeklong visit that is both ceremonial and official: It will include a state visit and an audience an lavish dinner with Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family in London, D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential … See More visit to Ireland. His visit to the United Kingdom comes days before British Prime Minister Theresa May will step down as head of the Conservative Party on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal. Trump has praised her her rival, prime ministerial hopeful Boris Johnson, saying that he thinks he would do “a very good job.” Trump is not expected to meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who called him a “global threat.” Trump has called Khan a “twin” of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, only “shorter.”
Trump stirred controversy when, in an interview with the Sun, he referred to Meghan Markle, the American-born Duchess of Sussex, as “nasty” for her past criticism of him. (Markle, who just gave birth last month, was not expected to meet with Trump this week.) Trump pushed back Sunday against the report, tweeting: “I never called Meghan Markle “nasty.” Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!” The Sun posted the audio of the interview on its website.
China and Mexico ready to talk
China and Mexico, the two largest sources of U.S. imports who face the possibility of new tariffs in the coming weeks, are reportedly willingness to negotiate with Washington over escalating trade issues. On Sunday, Beijing reportedly released a governmentpolicy paper on trade issues, accusing the Trumpadministration of scuttling the negotiations, which stalled in May.
While saying Trump’s “American First” policy is hurting the global economy, China also said it is willing to negotiate. Mexico, meanwhile, rushed a delegation to the U.S. to discuss immigration issues, following the Trump administration’s threat last week to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods entering the U.S. if the Mexican government fails combat the migrant crisis at the border.
Gillibrand town hall gets heated
Things got heated at a Fox News town hall in Iowa Sunday when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. used the platform to blame the network for allowing discussions of infanticide in debates about abortion and women’s reproductive rights. When asked by a retired pediatric nurse named Susan about her stance on late-term abortions, Gillibrand pivoted to an attack on Fox News. Gillibrand accused Fox of fueling what she called the infanticide “red herring” and “false narrative” by devoting 6.5 hours of coverage to the debate, including comments from guests on the network. Town hall moderator Chris Wallace cut her off.
“Senator, I just want to say, we’ve brought you here for an hour,” Wallace said. “We’ve treated you very fairly. I understand that maybe to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’sfrankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.”
Investigators still seeking motive in Virginia Beach shooting
Virginia Beach police are still looking for a motive behind the workplace shooting that left 12 people dead last Friday. TheVirginia Beach shooter, identified as 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock, had submitted his resignation earlier that morning, officials said Sunday. Craddock, was an engineer with the city’s public utilities department for 15 years. In a news conference Sunday morning, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen described the man’s work performance as “satisfactory” with no ongoing issues of discipline. Hansen also reiterated that Craddock was not fired or in the process of being fired leading up to the shooting
Love triangle in Connecticut?
The estranged husband of a missing Connecticut mother is being held on $500,000 bond at the Bridgeport Correctional Center and is expected to be arraigned on Monday at 10 a.m. in Norwalk Superior Court. His girlfriend is also being held on $500,000 bond. Jennifer Dulos, the Connecticut mother of five who has been missing for more than a week. Fotis Dulos was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, New Canaan police said Sunday. His girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, 44, was also arrested and booked on similar charges over the weekend.
Senior North Korea official thought imprisoned by Kim Jong Un pictured at concert with dictator.
AOC plays 2020 Democratic contender gatekeeper.
Roger Stone post calls for former CIA Director John Brennan to be ‘hung for treason’: report.
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Demand Free Speech Reception: Trump Hotel July 3 w/@RogerStone
Everyone I hope to see you in DC in July – Here’s your chance to mingle with Roger Stone and other VIPs (TBA) at Trump Hotel July 3 – Demand Free Speech Reception Fundraiser 9:30pm – 11:30pm 2 hours open bar and great food! Please share! #MAGA Tickets through Facebook & Eventbrite MagaGala.com email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions please share! magagala.com
Demand Free Speech Reception: Trump Hotel July 3 w/@RogerStone
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