Trump cites IRS audit as reason why he hasn't released his tax returns
"There's nothing to learn from them"
Donald Trump said Wednesday that he plans to release his taxes when an IRS audit is completed, despite telling the Associated Press the previous day that he would not release his tax documents.
“In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!” the real estate mogul tweeted Wednesday, after Trump’s critics, including Mitt Romney and other Republicans, who have urged Trump to make his tax returns available.
Trump’s resistance to releasing his tax documents leaves major questions for voters weighing a candidate whose campaign is staked on his business acumen and the fact that he is “very, very rich” – and would mark a major break with decades of precedent set by the nominees of the two major political parties.
The presumptive Republican nominee told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday “there’s nothing to learn from them.”
Despite telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in February 2015 – before he declared his candidacy – he “would release tax returns,” Trump has pivoted to say he would not do so while his income tax filings are still under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Given that he says his tax returns since 2009 are still under audit, it is highly unlikely Trump will release anything before the November 2016 election if he sticks to that reasoning.
“He still leaves himself this out by saying if this audit wraps up before the November election, then sure he’ll release his tax returns,” said Julie Pace, one of the AP reporters who interviewed him, on CNN’s “At This Hour.” “We said, ‘Will you push your lawyers on this, will you tell them that voters deserve to know this information regardless of the audit?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘One, the voters don’t actually care about this, and two, there is no new l information that would come out of the tax returns.’”
In February, the IRS said: “Federal privacy rules prohibit the IRS from discussing individual tax matters. Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to CNN requests for comment.
Trump has resisted pressure from Democrats and forces within his own party – most notably 2012 GOP nominee – who have called on him to release tax returns.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who has endorsed Trump, also told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that the real estate mogul told him that he intends to release his taxes after the audit.
“I think he should and I think he will. There’s no law, but there is a tradition,” Issa said.
Romney reiterated that call to release the documents in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon.
“It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service,” said Romney, long a vociferous critic of Trump’s. “Tax returns provide the public with its sole confirmation of the veracity of a candidate’s representations regarding charities, priorities, wealth, tax conformance, and conflicts of interest.”
Romney also dismissed Trump’s refusal to release the returns on the basis that he’s being audited.
“There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them. Given Mr. Trump’s equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it’s a bombshell of unusual size,” Romney said.
An aide for Trump said that Romney did not volunteer his tax return but was instead pressured to do so.
“Mitt Romney got forced into it,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s counsel, said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “He didn’t have the backbone like Donald Trump does.”
Issa brushed aside Romney’s criticism, saying, “Mitt right now needs to get over the fact that somebody he didn’t pick won.”
The tax returns would give voters information about Trump’s effective tax rate, his charitable contributions and his income – all data points for which the billionaire has come under intense scrutiny.
Trump in late March released a letter from his tax attorneys confirming that the billionaire real estate mogul’s tax filings from 2009 onward remain under review by the IRS.
Still, Trump has also refused to release his tax returns from previous years, which are no longer under IRS audit.
CNN’s Tal Kopan and Julia Manchester contributed to this report.