Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trump Now Says His Tax Returns Are "None Of Your Business!"

A question: If you were running for President on the fact that you are the greatest businessman alive and your financial acumen would "Make America Great Again"... Why not show your taxes?

Perhaps there's something in them that disproves the narrative?

For as long as I can remember when someone was running to be president of the United States releasing their tax returns is, until this year at least, a well established practice.

It started with Nixon, a notorious tax cheat, in 1973 and every party’s nominee since 1976 has released in kind.

Until now.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has declared that he will not be disclosing his tax returns after all because they’re “none of your business!”.

With that in mind let's enjoy a short history of Trump and his tax return promises, dodges and excuses.

The issue of his tax returns has been a contentious subject with Donald Trump for as far back as the year 2000 when he started toying with the idea of running for the presidency. The release of said tax returns only really came to a head when Trump started his infamous “birther” campaign against President Barack Obama. Let's begin there...

  • In 2011 in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Trump defiantly stated… 

Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate,

*We all know how that worked out. The certificate got released but Trump’s taxes never saw the light of day.

  • 2012 was the next time Trump's returns hit the radar was when the GOP’s last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, hesitated to release his returns. Trump told Greta Van Sustren that Romney “was hurt really very badly” by his initial refusal to release his tax returns. He advised Romney to “release them now.” Trump then praised Romney for releasing his returns and said they were “very honorably done.” 

  • In 2014, while on an Irish television show, Trump was asked about his presidential run and the release of his taxes to which he replied…

If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely

  • In February 2015, Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he had “no objection” to releasing his returns.

  • In June 2015, The Washington Post reported that Trump would, citing people familiar with his plans, said...

 has not ruled out [releasing his tax returns] at some point in the coming months,” 
  • The very next day CNN reported that Trump planned to release the tax returns before the first Republican debate on Aug. 6.

  • A few days before Aug. 6, Trump told CBS “Face The Nation” host John Dickerson that he had... 

no major problem” disclosing the returns suggested he “may tie them to release of Hillary’s emails,
  • In September of 2015, then Trump unveiled his tax plan, he said he planned to release his tax returns in the... 

not-too-distant future,” 

  • In early October in 2015, Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he was “thinking about” releasing, but again tried to tie his disclosures to the release of Clinton’s emails. An excuse that later fell apart when the State Department began releasing thousands of pages of her emails.

  • On Oct. 15 2015 Trump teased the press by tweeting a photo of himself alongside a huge stack of papers, with the phrase “Signing my tax return...”

I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working on that over the next period of time, 

  • In late February, nearly a year after promising to release his returns, Trump told host Hugh Hewitt on his radio show that he’d release them...

at some point, probably.” 

  • Two days later, Trump added a new wrinkle to his story and said at a CNN debate that he couldn’t release the tax returns because he’s been audited every year for the last 12 years. He claimed after the debate that the IRS had targeted him for being a “strong Christian.

  • At a March 29 town hall CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Trump So you can offer evidence that you are being audited or have been audited like you say?” to which Trump replied...

A hundred percent. I’ll give you a letter from the biggest firm in Washington that does my work for me.

  • Two days later, Trump’s lawyers’ released a letter dated March 7 that claimed he’s been under “continuous” IRS examination since 2002.

FACT CHECK: There’s no legal reason that Trump can’t release his tax returns even if under audit. According to the IRS, Trump’s excuse is invalid and in February, the agency clarified that...

nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information. 
  • Last Friday, Trump campaign surrogate Ben Carson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he expected Trump to release them before the election...

If he says he’s going to release them, he’s going to release them. It’ll be at an appropriate time.

  • Then on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Trump refused to give a firm date  claiming again that he’d have to wait until after an audit is completed. (refer back to previous "FACT CHECK")

  • Last Tuesday Trump suggested to the AP that voters aren’t interested in the matter, In an interview with the organization Trump revealed that he will not release any of his tax returns before election day saying 

There’s nothing to learn from them,

  • By Wednesday night Trump attempted to walk back the statements he made with AP, telling Fox News host Greta van Susteren that he hopes to release his tax returns before the election, but that the IRS audit is preventing him from doing so. “You said you don’t intend to release your tax returns,” van Susteren said. 

I didn’t say that,” Trump responded. “I am being audited. ... The answer is hopefully before the election. I will release, and I would like to release.

That brings us to today.

  • During a morning phone interview on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos asked Trump, “What is your tax rate?” to which Trump replied…

It’s none of your business.

And there you have it as it stands Saturday, May 14th, 2016.

Want a hint as to why Trump is so hesitant to release his tax returns? Remember when Trump released a two-page summary of assets indicating that the real estate mogul had assets of about $9 billion. (The campaign pegged his net worth in excess of $10 billion the following month when filing an FEC financial disclosure). Tax returns, however, are not as easily manipulated. They would show that Trump is much less wealthy than he claims.

On a final note: Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, has disclosed her tax returns  stretching back decades including fifteen years of tax returns are available online.

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