On Thursday, July 9th, the Supreme Court announced their decision on subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s tax returns and financial records. Thus, rejecting his claim for presidential immunity and upholding the subpoenas from New York prosecutors that are seeking his tax returns and financial records. The fight for the president’s tax returns is being sent back to the lower courts, which makes it unlikely that his tax returns will be released before the election in November. Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has been asked to release his tax returns.
Individual income tax returns are private information, even those of public figures, which includes the president. The IRS is barred from releasing taxpayer information, except to authorized agencies and individuals. Since the early 1970s, most presidents have released their returns to the public. The only exceptions have been Donald Trump and General Ford. Ford did not release complete returns, but he did release ten years of summary data that included gross income, taxable income, deductions, and taxes paid. In October of 2016, the New York Times released some of Trump’s tax documents from 1995, which showed that Trump incurred a $916 million net operating loss, which could prevent Trump from owing Federal income taxes for up to 18 years. While this is just one reason people government officials want Trump’s returns released, there are several other reasons as well.
The recent decision by the Supreme Court started with the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., who wants Trump’s tax returns. The reason Cyrus wanted Trump’s tax return was as a part of his probe into hush-payments to two women. House Democrats seek Trump’s tax returns to determine if any foreign government is holding control over him. Other reasons the House Oversight Committee wants Trump’s tax returns include whether Trump has any undisclosed conflicts of interest that would impair his ability to make impartial decisions, and if Trump has accurately reported his finances to the federal entities. All these questions are problematic, but he currently isn’t required to release his returns.
The fight for President Trump to release his Tax Returns has been ongoing since his presidency started. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump is not immune to the subpoena from New York prosecutors and will be sending the case back down to the lower courts. Although a president releasing their tax returns is not required by law, it has been common practice since the 1970s, with the only exceptions being George Ford and Donald Trump.