After years of legal battles, former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 are now part of the public record.
Critics have theorized that Trump fought the disclosure of his tax returns because they provided evidence of illegal behavior.
It’s not immediately clear that they do either.
However, Trump’s tax returns raise numerous questions about the former president’s finances, his business activities, and among other issues.
Why did Trump work so hard to keep all of this secret?
Trump defied convention by becoming the first elected president since Nixon to withhold his tax returns from the public.
When Democratic lawmakers wanted them, he fought for years to keep them secret.
In 2016, the House Ways and Means Committee disclosed that Trump’s 2015 and 2016 taxes weren’t audited until 2019.
Thousands of pages of documents offer only more questions about Trump’s finances and may offer potential avenues for new investigations.
What was Trump doing with a Chinese bank account?
Trump reported having foreign bank accounts, including a bank account in China between 2015 and 2017, his tax returns show.
The account was used to pay taxes on the Trump International Hotels Management’s business in the country, it has been reported by the New York Times.
Trump did not report the Chinese bank account in personal financial disclosures when he was president, likely because it was listed under his businesses.
Yet he may have still been required to report accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
What’s the scope of Trump’s foreign business operations, and who are his partners?
Trump’s companies and business interests span the globe.
On his tax return, Trump listed business income, taxes, expenses or other notable financial items.
But the tax returns don’t explain what business ties he had in those countries and with whom he might have been working while he was president.
Unlike previous presidents, Trump declined to divest his business interests while he was in office.
Critics said his many foreign holdings compromised his ability to act independently as a politician.
His 2020 tax return showed zero charitable donations. Did Trump actually donate his presidential salary to charity, as he promised he would?
During his presidency, Trump pledged he would donate the entirety of his $400,000 salary to charity each year.
He frequently boasted about donating parts of his quarterly paycheck to various government agencies.
If he donated his 2020 salary, he didn’t claim it on his taxes.
Among the six years of tax returns the House Ways and Means Committee released, 2020 was the sole year in which Trump listed no donations to charity.
That doesn’t mean his salary wasn’t donated, but it’s unclear if he made good on his promise in 2020.
Why was Trump loaning money to his adult children? And did Trump claim gifts to his children as loans?
In each year of Trump’s presidency, Trump claimed that he had loaned three of his adult children – Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric – undisclosed sums of money on which he collected interest.
The tax returns don’t say how much he lent them or why he gave them loans in the first place.
Donald Trump says he received exactly $18,000 in interest on a loan and $8,715 from his son Donald Trump, Jr. between 2017 and 2019.
In the same period, Donald Trump’s son Eric paid him $19,605 in interest.
The bipartisan Joint Committee said the loans and the amounts of claimed interest could indicate Trump was disguising gifts to his children.
Trump might have to pay a higher tax rate on the money if the interest he claims to have charged his children was not at market rate.
How did Trump’s business operations and income change when he was president?
US President-elect Donald Trump has a vast web of business interests, including limited liability companies, corporations and partnerships.
The massiveness and intricacy of his business operations brought a level of complexity not seen before in the US presidency.
it also spurred concern about potential conflicts of interest, especially with foreign entities.
But they don’t spell out where money was going and to whom.
His tax returns may shed some light on how those operations evolved during and shortly after his time in office.
Why didn’t the IRS do its job?
Since 1977, the Internal Revenue Service has had a policy of auditing every president’s personal tax returns while they are in office.
But the IRS didn’t do any examination of Trump’s tax returns until the Ways and Means Committee requested an audit in April of 2019.
The Treasury Department has declined to provide information about the actual operations of the mandatory audit program, according to report.
It remains unclear whether Trump received special treatment or, as the committee noted, the IRS was hamstrung by an acute lack of resources.
Leave a Reply