The blistering New York Times article that revealed the extent of Donald Trump’s losses in the ’80s — making him the worst businessman in America at the time, per The Inquisitr — is being seized by his opposition. But The Daily Signal reports that by obtaining and publishing the president’s tax return information from 1985 to 1994, the publisher has violated federal law.
Federal law protects tax returns and information relating to them, such as IRS transcripts, from disclosure by both private individuals and government employees. This law means that The Times has no more right to publish Trump’s returns than the average American citizen.
Although The Times said it only obtained “printouts from his official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, from someone who had legal access to them,” this could still cause legal problems, as any information obtained from an IRS employee could land them in trouble.
The Daily Signal suggests that the editors and reporters from The Times could face legal trouble as well. However, it suggests that the publication might be able to avoid repercussions thanks to the First Amendment, as similar cases in the past did not see the government attempt to prosecute publishers for releasing tax information.
Exclusive: The New York Times has obtained a decade of Donald Trump’s tax figures. They show over $1 billion in business losses from 1985 to 1994. https://t.co/GDiZIBuJS3— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 7, 2019
Regardless, Democrats continue to battle to lawfully obtain Trump’s recent tax returns. As The Inquisitr reported, the New York Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would allow three congressional committees to access the president’s tax returns. This move would allow Congress to obtain them, which would be the solution to Trump’s refusal to hand them over himself. However, the bill still needs to make it to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
Republicans are decrying the bill, but Manhattan Democrat Brad Hoylman, one of its main sponsors, brushed off the pushback.
“The power of the Congress to see your federal taxes already exists. We’re not doing anything new here.”
The information would only reveal Trump’s New York finances, but this information would likely overlap with the financial records contained in his federal returns.
Although Trump isn’t legally obligated to provide his tax returns, he is breaking a decades-old presidential tradition by refusing to do so.
“Donald Trump has broken 40 years of political tradition by not releasing his tax returns,” Hoylman said.
“Now, his administration is precipitating a constitutional crisis by shielding the president from congressional oversight over those returns. Our system of checks and balances is failing. New York has a special role and responsibility to step into the breach.”