Trump has 'no intention' of releasing tax returns, Steve Mnuchin says
The 2017 tax filing season has come and gone, and President Donald Trump still hasn't made his tax returns public.
According to his Treasury secretary, it's not going to happen.
A reporter asked Steve Mnuchin if Trump will release his own returns during an April 26 press conference to lay out Trump's tax plan.
"The president has no intention," Mnuchin replied. "The president has released plenty of information and, I think, has given more financial disclosure than anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information."
Trump was the first major presidential nominee in 40 years not to release his tax returns, citing a routine audit.
However, nothing prevents someone from making their tax returns public while undergoing an audit. President Richard Nixon, in fact, released his returns during one.
Trump promised that when the audit was over, he would release his returns.
Earlier in April, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump's audit was still ongoing, so there was no timeline on when he would release his, tax returns.
"We're under the same audit that existed, and so nothing has changed," Spicer said in an April 17 press briefing.
An interesting note: Since the 1970s and the Watergate era, all presidential tax returns undergo an IRS audit — "mandatory examination" — according to the IRS manual.
So the taxes Trump filed in 2017 actually do face an audit, but it's unknown how many past years of Trump's tax returns remain under audit. We'll only know Trump's audit is over if and when he decides to inform to the public.
Congressional Democrats have warned that if Trump doesn't release his personal returns, it will be difficult to accomplish tax reform. And the New York Times counted more than a dozen Republican lawmakers who say Trump should release them, not to mention broad public support.
Given Mnuchin's statement and the fact that the White House continues to drag its feet on releasing any of Trump's tax returns, we rate this promise Stalled.
CQ, Mnuchin and Cohn press briefing, April 26, 2017
CQ, White House press briefing, April 17, 2017
IRS, Internal Revenue Manual, accessed April 26, 2017
New York Times, "Trump's Unreleased Taxes Threaten Yet Another Campaign Promise," April 17, 2017
Trump says he will release tax returns after 'audit'
Donald Trump is the first president in almost 40 years to not release his tax returns, which has people wondering: What's in them?
Trump promised to release them during his campaign, but he has yet to do so, citing an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
"I'm under a routine audit and it'll be released, and as soon as the audit is finished it will be released," Trump said at the first debate in September.
An audit doesn't legally stop a person from releasing tax returns, though.
WHY HE'S PROMISING IT
Trump was called on repeatedly to release his tax returns throughout the election.
While not required by law, all but one major party nominee over the last 40 years has released tax returns for the prior year. Republican President Gerald Ford did not release a tax return, either.
Trump's team argued during the campaign that his release of financial disclosures were most than sufficient, but that isn't true.
Experts told PolitiFact in 2016 that releasing tax returns would offer valuable details on his tax rate, the types of taxes he paid, and his charitable giving, as well as a better idea of his income-producing assets.
WHAT'S STANDING IN HIS WAY
While Trump has made it seem like they are factors standing in his way, experts have labeled those reasons as excuses and have questioned his lawyers' rationale.
There is no law that stops a person from releasing tax returns while under audit. Richard Nixon released his tax returns in the middle of an audit a year after being re-elected.
Edward McCaffrey, a tax law professor at the University of Southern California, wrote a column on CNN in August 2016 dissecting Trump's excuses one by one and ultimately concluded none were valid.
McCaffrey told PolitiFact in November the reason Trump hasn't released his tax returns comes down to not wanting other people to help the IRS see issues that might cost Trump money.
In March 2016, Trump's attorneys wrote a letter explaining why they have advised Trump to not release his returns. They cite Trump's ownership in over 500 companies and said his tax returns are unusually complex, which is why they have been under examination.
Given that being under audit doesn't stop someone from releasing his returns, Brian Galle, a tax law professor at Georgetown University, questions how "my attorneys told me not to" is an acceptable excuse.
"It is tantamount to saying, in essence, that there is something incriminating that the official does not want uncovered," Galle said.