CNN has just exposed that the Republican presidential candidate is lying about his IRS audit as a way of hiding his taxes. So far, Trump will not even release his taxes that are not under audit. Individual income tax returns, even those of public figures, are private information. But lying to the public is a different story.
There is also still speculation that there is no audit at all.
In a statement to The Hill, the IRS said:
‘Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.’
U.S. presidential candidates are not required by law to release them, but most candidates have chosen to release their returns since 1970. Of course, there is existing precedent and more importantly, public opinion. That is where the lying comes into play.
Trump has said repeatedly that he will release his tax returns after the IRS completes his audit, even in the primary debate. He said:
‘I’m just going to put you people to rest: Until my audit is finished, very simple, you are not going to see anything,’
The IRS cannot release them, but the organization says there is no law preventing Trump from releasing his taxes – even when he is under an audit.
The new Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview, that Trump will not release any of his returns while the IRS is auditing him. Bash noted that Trump’s lawyer said that 2002 to 2008 are no longer under audit.
Before she came into her new position, Conway was a Trump spokesperson. At that time, she said she would like to see his tax returns, for him to be transparent. Even though everyone knew Trump said he was being audited, Conway says that she didn’t know he was under audit when she made that comment. Now she says that none of the returns will be released while Trump is under audit.
‘The tax returns are under audit. He said very clearly he will release as soon as his audit is over.’
Then, she turned her dialogue back around to Hillary Clinton, who has made her tax returns public for the past 25 years.
When people hide something, clearly there is something to hide. So what is Donald Trump hiding?
Maybe, he doesn’t pay his taxes. Maybe, he has over-estimated his own worth. Maybe, he has cheated the IRS. How charitable is he?
For some reason, Trump believes that it is more advantageous to keep the tax returns private than to release them. That makes people want to see them even more. At some point, people’s speculation will be worse than the truth.
Robert Kovacev, a tax lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson and a former counsel in the Justice Department’s tax division said “It might not be smart” for Trump to release his returns while under audit. Trump might not want the public and the media highlighting certain transactions, because that would draw the IRS’s attention to them.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it would be “rare” for a taxpayer to be audited every year for a dozen years. Of course, people who are high earners are audited more frequently as most. But an audit does not mean a person is doing anything wrong.
Dean Zerbe, national managing director of alliantgroup and former senior counsel to the Senate Finance Committee said:
‘He’s not just a wealthy fellow. He’s a wealthy fellow, I’m sure, with complicated tax returns.’
Conway ended the CNN interview with this:
‘How would a president Donald Trump or a President Hillary [Clinton] affect their [taxpayers] tax bill?’
‘Transparency, accountability, truthfulness comes in many different forms.’
Sometimes that form is called “lying.”
Featured Image: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera via Flickr, Creative Commons License, minor modification.