Democrats in control of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, an unprecedented intrusion that revealed nothing in particular.
The release marked the first time Congress had ever obtained and published the tax returns of any individual.
Trump had resisted calls to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential election, saying that they were under audit. He was also reluctant to give political ammunition to his rivals. (In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for years, a claim that was given credibility by the media but had no basis in fact.)
Democrats speculated that Trump must have been hiding something, and fantasized about what his returns might show. But when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow published a 2005 tax return showing he paid $38 million in income taxes, she was widely mocked.
In 2019, the New York Times claimed to have obtained “decades” of Trump’s tax returns. Though the paper reported that he shown “chronic losses and years of tax avoidance,” it could find nothing illegal or untoward.
As Breitbart News reported:
The Times story, if based on authentic documents, appears to debunk several conspiracy theories held by Democrats for years. The tax returns do not “any previously unreported connections to Russia,” the Times reports. Moreover, the Times story appears to confirm Trump’s claim — long treated as an excuse by Democrats — that he is under audit by the IRS. And the Times could not find “any itemized payments to Mr. Cohen,” ostensibly the subject of the New York investigation [into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels].
Nevertheless, Democrats tried to use their majority on the Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax legislation, to force Trump to release his returns, though there was no real legislative purpose in doing so.
Trump resisted the committee’s efforts in the courts, until finally losing at the Supreme Court, which allowed the Committee to compel the IRS to turn over the tax returns of Trump, now a private citizen.
The House Ways and Means Committee released the returns just days before Democrats formally lose their majority in the House of Representatives — and, with it, majority control of the various House committees.
The six years of newly-released returns, covering the years 2015 through 2020, show that Trump paid a total of $4.4 million in federal income taxes over that period, with an adjusted gross income of -$53.2 million. “The Trumps paid some form of federal taxes every year, but they reported income-tax liability of $750 or less in three of the six years,” the Wall Street Journal noted. Democrats point to some potential problems. They claim that Trump’s tax returns as president were not properly audited by the IRS (a claim the IRS disputes). They also complained about charitable deductions and whether loans to his children should have been taxed as income.
However, there appeared to be few bombshells. In a statement on Truth Social, his social media platform, the former president said the returns showed “how proudly successful I have been” and warned that “the Democrats should never have done it.”
Republicans echoed the latter sentiment, saying the release of the tax returns seemed to have a purely political motive, and opened the door for Republicans to do the same in future.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.