House Republicans block resolution seeking release of Trump’s tax returns
House Republicans last week blocked a Democratic-backed resolution demanding President Donald Trump disclose his tax returns.
The resolution failed with a 229 to 185 vote, with nearly all Republicans voting to scuttle the disclosure requirement. Two Republicans, Rep. Walter B. Jones and Rep. Mark Sanford both of South Carolina, voted “present”.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized House Republicans for being “accomplices to hiding President Trump’s tax returns from the American people”.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey), who has repeatedly called for Trump’s tax returns to be released, argued that the American people deserve to “understand the full scope of the president’s business interests and be assured that he is not taking foreign emoluments as outlawed by our Constitution”.
Shortly after the House resolution failed, Pascrell and 163 members of Congress submitted a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-Texas) calling on them to request Trump’s tax returns for the past 10 years from the Treasury Secretary pursuant to Section 6103(f)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code so members of the committees can examine the president’s tax records for any conflicts of interest in closed session.
In addition, Pascrell introduced a bill that would require the president to “publicly disclose any financial interests that would be at stake before acting on trade matters”.
The Presidential Trade Transparency Act of 2017, if passed, would require the president to disclose to Congress “income, assets and liabilities associated with countries with which the United States is negotiating a trade or investment agreement” before trade negotiations begin.
“Our legislation is imperative to bring needed transparency and help the American people understand the full extent of the President’s likely conflicts of interest. My pursuit of the President’s tax returns would serve the same purpose,” said Pascrell. “We need to have confidence that decisions on trade negotiations are being made in our national interest from the start or we’re in trouble. We cannot sit down at the bargaining table blind to potential conflicts.”
During the 2016 campaign, Trump became the first presidential nominee in decades to refuse to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit. The IRS has stated there is no legal reason preventing Trump from releasing his tax returns during an audit.
The New York Times reported last October that Trump exploited a tax loophole to avoid paying federal income tax for up to 18 years. The Times received several pages of Trump’s 1995 income tax returns that showed Trump claimed a $916 million loss from his investments in three Atlantic City casinos, “to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years”.
During the second presidential debate, Trump admitted that he used the $916 million write-off to avoid paying federal income taxes.