Oct 11, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The fight for Trump's taxes

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruling Friday morning in House Democrats' favor was just one piece of a web of ongoing court and legislative battles to obtain President Trump's tax returns and financial records.

Why it matters: The case to subpoena President Trump's financial records from Mazars USA, his longtime accounting firm, is much farther along in the courts than most of the opposition's other efforts — and it might be Democrats' best chance to make them public.

  • Unless the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case or the Supreme Court takes it up on appeal from Trump's legal team, the president could lose his long, bitter fight to keep his finances private.

The other court battles:

  • House Democrats have sought financial records for Trump, his family members and his businesses via Deutsche Bank in federal court in New York. But the court indicated in a ruling this week that Deutsche Bank is not in possession of the president's tax returns.
  • Trump won an emergency stay from a federal appeals court earlier this week after losing a key ruling in a case brought by Manhattan's district attorney for 8 years of the president's personal and corporate tax returns. The case is awaiting "expedited review" by a court panel.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department in July to compel the IRS to turn over 6 years of Trump's tax returns. That case is awaiting a hearing next month.

California and New York have passed their own laws to attempt to get a look at Trump's taxes, but both have faced quick lawsuits from the president — resulting in injunctions while the cases proceed.

The other side: The Trump administration's position is that the requests for his returns serve no "legitimate legislative purpose," and therefore don't have to be fulfilled.

  • The Justice Department also says it's for this reason that Congress can't subpoena the documents.

What we do know: A decade of Trump's tax documents received by the New York Times in May revealed that he racked up $1.17 billion in losses from 1985 to 1994.

  • He seems to have lost enough money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for 8 of the 10 years.
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