Spirited Reasoners will recall that candidate Trump, back in 2016, refused to release his income tax returns, claiming they were “being audited.”
We are now well into the year 2019 and are forced to wonder whether those same 2014 and 2015 returns are still being audited. If so, we may be talking about some of the slowest tax audits in IRS history.
The correct perspective, however, is not one that seeks to determine how long his audits are taking. Instead, we need only observe that the presence or absence of an audit shouldn’t matter. Previous presidential candidates—including those who were sitting presidents at the time—released their tax returns despite the IRS practice of routinely auditing all presidential tax returns. In other words, there is no law that prevents a candidate from releasing his or her tax returns while those returns are being audited.
Let’s assume, however, that there exists some important legal reason, perhaps one that is highly personal to a large-scale real estate developer, that might persuade a candidate to maintain the confidentiality of a tax return pending the completion of an audit. Must we not therefore conclude that the audits for tax years 2014 and 2015 are still ongoing? Otherwise, if he was being honest with us, we’d be seeing those tax returns by now, right? Or, if not those returns, perhaps we’d be seeing returns from 2011, 2012, or 2013.
But, alas. It seems candidate Trump, and now President Trump, was just using that audit excuse as a smokescreen.
Which leads Spirited Reasoners to wonder what it is, exactly, in those tax returns that has him so worried? Following are a few possibilities that come to mind:
- Could there be evidence of ongoing real estate developments in Russia?
- Could there be evidence of a total lack of interest in making charitable contributions?
- Could there be evidence of assets that were improperly hidden during a divorce settlement?
- Could there be evidence that sizable sums of money are owed to banks in certain controversial countries?
- Could there be evidence that some of his corporations are in partnership with corporations having ties to controversial world leaders?
Americans don’t know the answers to those questions, because President Trump does not want us to know.
Why not? What is he hiding from We the People?