Updated Dec 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House committee releases Trump tax returns

Former President Trump speaking in Palm Beach, Florida, in November 2022.

Former President Trump speaking in Palm Beach, Florida, in November 2022. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The House Ways and Means Committee on Friday released six years of former President Trump's tax returns, uncloaking a complex web of businesses and other sources of income.

Why it matters: The release comes after the committee's yearslong effort to obtain Trump's tax returns as part of a probe into the IRS' mandatory presidential audit program — and as he vies for a second White House term while facing other investigations and legal defeats.

  • The committee formally voted to release the former president's returns earlier this month.

As outlined in a report released by the committee earlier this month, the former president's tax returns from 2015 through 2020 show that his finances and the amount of taxes he and Melania Trump owed fluctuated significantly throughout his presidency.

  • He and the former first lady reported a negative income of $4.7 million in 2020, with $0 of taxable income and a net tax liability of $0. The same year, the couple also claimed a tax refund of $5.4 million.

What they're saying: "A president is no ordinary taxpayer," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement Friday. "They hold power and influence unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility."

  • “We anticipated the IRS would expand the mandatory audit program to account for the complex nature of the former president’s financial situation yet found no evidence of that," Neal said. "This is a major failure of the IRS under the prior administration, and certainly not what we had hope to find."
  • The committee released a zipped file containing copies of Trump's personal and business returns.

Driving the news: The committee's release includes thousands of pages from Trump's recent tax returns.

  • Though some sensitive details, such as social security numbers, are redacted, the documents reveal previously undisclosed details about the former president's finances while he served in the White House.
  • Trump reported having several foreign financial interests, including accounts in the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, and Saint Martin.
  • Trump, whose name appears on hotels across the globe, also reported other financial activity in more than a dozen foreign countries, including Korea, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Panama.

The big picture: The newly released records help corroborate testimony from Trump's former tax preparer that he reported significant losses on his returns in the decade leading up to 2018.

  • For example, in 2017 — the first year of Trump's presidency — he and Melania listed a total income of negative $12.9 million on their personal return.
  • His main holding company, DJT Holdings LLC, reported more than $300 million in losses in the six years the returns cover as well.
  • Tax filings related to Trump's family business have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years, with a jury convicting the Trump Organization of tax fraud earlier this month.

Background: The House Ways and Means Committee initially requested Trump's returns from the IRS in 2019 as part of its investigation into the service’s presidential audit program.

  • After the Treasury Department denied the committee's request, Neal, the committee chair, filed a lawsuit enforcing its inquiry.
  • The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court in November, which ruled against Trump and paved the way for the committee to gain access to the returns.
  • A separate report from the committee released earlier this month found that the the IRS did not audit Trump's taxes during the first two years of his presidency, even though the service is required to conduct mandatory reviews of presidents' tax returns.
  • The Democrat-led committee was up against a deadline to complete its probe of the audit program and Trump returns, as the incoming Republican House majority would have likely ceased the committee's investigation in the new Congress.

The other side: “The Democrats should have never done it, the Supreme Court should have never approved it, and it’s going to lead to horrible things for so many people,” Trump said in a statement Friday. “The radical, left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!”

  • The newly released documents, Trump said, “once again show how proudly successful I have been and how I have been able to use depreciation and various other tax deductions as an incentive for creating thousands of jobs and magnificent structures and enterprises."
  • Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee issued a minority views report Friday objecting to the release of the tax records, saying, "Democrats’ dangerous precedent will lead the American public to demand other people's tax returns to be released."

What we're watching: During their last hybrid conference ahead of next year's new Congress, House Republicans debated how — or if — they should weaponize any of President Biden's returns in light of the disclosure, per multiple sources on the call.

Go deeper: Jan. 6 panel refers Trump on criminal charges

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

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