Throughout his 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump claimed that he was unable to make his income tax returns public, breaking a tradition of financial openness that, according to Tax Notes, dates back to the Watergate era of the early 1970s. According to Trump, he was prevented from releasing his tax returns because they were under an Internal Revenue Service audit.
But after Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen raised doubts about Trump’s “audit” claim in testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February, according The Hill, that committee’s chair, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, began efforts to obtain those Trump tax returns.
Now, on Wednesday, an accounting firm that took part in preparing Trump’s tax returns says that it will hand over 10 years worth of the documents to Cummings’ committee as soon as it has received a subpoena to do so, according to a report by Politico.
Cohen also provided documents to the committee, as Cummings detailed in letter posted online by Politico, showing that Trump had apparently exaggerated the value of his financial assets in bank documents.
In “Statement of Financial Condition” documents, as The Inquisitr has reported, Trump included such exaggerations as adding an extra 10 floors to Trump Tower, to make the building seem taller than it actually is.
The accounting firm that prepared those documents, Mazars USA, says that it also is in possession of Trump’s tax returns.
“They have told us that they will provide the information pretty much when they have a subpoena,” Cummings said, as quoted by Politico. “And we’ll get them a subpoena.”
But once Trump’s tax returns are turned over to Congress, what could they show?
According to a memo prepared by the liberal Center For American Progress think tank, the returns could show if Trump has any financial conflicts of interest that could put national security at risk — in particular business dealings with Russia.
Until the report prepared by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller is released to Congress and the public, whether or not Mueller investigated potential Trump-Russian financial entanglements remains unclear, as The Washington Post reported.
But one tax attorney, who spoke to CBS News about what Trump’s tax returns could reveal, believes that Trump’s refusal to release the returns may be motivate by something less related to national security, and more to do with Trump’s ego.
“I think [Trump] is worried about two things: One, the income is probably lower than his pride will be able to deal with,” said tax lawyer Mark Matthews to CBS. “And I think the charitable deductions will be way lower [than he has claimed]. I think that’s going to be an embarrassing number for him.”