Top Finance Dem urges IRS to investigate Trump tax allegations
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Wednesday urged the IRS to investigate the findings of a lengthy New York Times article that President Trump and his family engaged in "dubious" and possibly criminal tax schemes in the 1990s.
“These media reports represent serious and credible allegations of potentially illegal tax fraud, based on extensive documentation,” Wyden wrote in a letter Wednesday to new IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
The bombshell Times story, published Tuesday afternoon, reported multiple schemes that the president and his father, Fred Trump, engaged in to minimize estate and gift tax bills. These included the establishment of a "sham" company used to hide gifts of millions of dollars, as well as undervaluing properties.
Tax experts say that the statute of limitations for criminal charges has likely expired for the events described in the Times story, but that there is no statute of limitations for civil tax fraud. Experts say that it could be challenging for the IRS to prove fraud given the age of the events under question.
“It is not clear whether the statute of limitations has expired in all cases," Wyden wrote. "It is imperative that IRS fully investigate these allegations and prosecute any violations to the fullest extent of the law.”
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Republicans: If Dems Release Trump’s Tax Returns, No One Will Be Safe
Donald Trump broke with many norms while running for president—for instance, candidates don’t usually boast that they could murder someone in broad daylight and not lose any voters; or accuse their opponent’s father of palling around with J.F.K.’s assassin; or tell Americans to check out a sex tape. In addition, you may recall, Trump refused to release his tax returns, claiming that a routine audit prevented him from doing so (fact-check: false), and promising, repeatedly, that the public could see them just as soon as the I.R.S. wrapped things up. Shortly after he took office, however, the White House began to shift its line from just as soon as the audit is over to no one cares about the president’s tax returns to um, obviously those things will never see the light of day. That Trump will not release documents that 1) presidential candidates have disclosed for 40 years, and 2) could answer a number of questions about where his loyalties lie and whether he’s a criminal took on extra meaning this week, given that on Monday Democrats announced they’ll go after the documents if midterms go their way, and on Tuesday The New York Times published a 14,000-word story alleging that Trump’s family has been evading—or outright dodging—taxes for decades, using schemes that experts say appear to have gone “well beyond what the law permits.”
Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the Times investigation, Democrats renewed their calls for transparency, with Representative Richard Neal telling The Wall Street Journal his party would use the authority of the Ways and Means Committee to commandeer a taxpayer’s records for confidential review—something that can be done without full approval from the House and Senate. And Republicans are having none of such talk. “This is dangerous,” an incensed Representative Kevin Brady tweeted Thursday. “Once Democrats abuse this law to make public @realDonaldTrump tax returns, what stops them from prying/making public YOUR tax returns for political reasons?” For good, fear monger-y measure, he concluded by hashtag-ing “#AbuseofPower” and “#EnemiesList.”
And, sure, Democrats could go after your tax returns for political reasons, but that would probably require you to be a sitting president who’s refused to release them on your own, and who’s been accused of “outright” tax fraud based on an investigation by The New York Times. If that describes you, you might have reason to worry! On the other hand, Congress has had this power for nearly 100 years and has not seen fit to “abuse” ordinary Americans with it it for political gain. One time it was used? In 1974, when Congress investigated Richard Nixon’s returns and determined that he was, in fact, a crook. But we’re sure that’s totally not what Brady & Co. are worried about here.