Donald Trump released a letter from his tax attorneys on Wednesday that showed his tax filings from 2009 to the present are under “continuous” audit from the IRS, who has consistently audited the Donald’s earnings from 2002 to the present.
“Your personal tax returns have been under continuous examination by the Internal Revenue Service since 2002, consistent with the IRS’s practice for large and complex businesses,” the letter from tax attorneys Sheri A. Dillon and William F. Nelson stated. “Examination of your tax returns for the year 2002 through 2008 have been closed administratively by agreement with the IRS without assessment or payment, on a net basis, of any deficiency.”
In other words, the IRS has not found any issues on his taxes so far, and the investigation is continuing without incident.
“Examinations for returns for the 2009 year and forward are ongoing,” the letter continued. “Your returns for these years report items that are attributable to continuing transactions or activities that were also reported on returns for 2008 and earlier. In this sense, the pending examinations are continuous of prior, closed examinations.”
This letter was published just a month after Mitt Romney took the stage and stated he didn’t believe Donald Trump would release any tax returns for any of the recent years leading up to his presidential campaign. Every presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter has released their tax returns publicly for the last few years before their campaign. The insinuation was that his dealings were not honest enough to be put on public record.
This letter backs up Trump’s claims that he would not publish his tax returns because there’s no law preventing him from doing so. In addition, it gives the GOP front-runner an easy out, since his taxes are still under audit. The statement gives trump legal backing for his avoidance because the IRS is auditing them “continuously.”
Trump has explained that his audit is the reason he can’t release tax returns in the past. During a GOP debate in February, he stated as follows.
“As far as my return, I want to file it, except for many years, I’ve been audited every year. I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three [years of returns] now so I can’t.”
However, just because a person’s taxes are under audit doesn’t mean that he can’t release his tax returns. It’s true that the IRS can’t release his returns for him, but Trump can display any information he wants at any time.
Mitt Romney says he’s bluffing. He tweeted at the end of February following the GOP debate, “No legit reason @realDonaldTrump can’t release returns while being audited, but if scared, release earlier returns no longer under audit.”
No legit reason @realDonaldTrump can't release returns while being audited, but if scared, release earlier returns no longer under audit.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 26, 2016
The letter from Trump’s lawyers seems to be some kind of effort to protect himself from sharing tax information. He and his campaign are no doubt hoping it will help to quiet the controversy.
The document released Wednesday was dated March 7, 2016. It was almost a full month later when the Trump administration decided to release it, raising questions as to why.
It might have something to do with Trump’s comments earlier regarding abortion. He suggested earlier on Wednesday that abortion should be against the law and that any women who undergoes the procedure should face “some form of punishment.” Later, after wild outrage at the comment, he backed up his claims and said that doctors who performed the procedure should face the backlash, not the women themselves.
Perhaps this letter was meant to be some kind of distraction from the controversy at hand. Trump’s campaign must have been waiting for their leader to voice an unpopular opinion so they could release this document to take some of the pressure off his statement.
All in all, the IRS may be auditing his taxes, but there’s no law saying he can’t release the information if he wished. It raises questions about why he’s still avoiding it.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]