'A Good Day': House Dems Vote to Make Trump Tax Returns Public

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks with Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) during a hearing to discuss tax returns from former U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on December 20, 2022. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

'A Good Day': House Dems Vote to Make Trump Tax Returns Public

"No person is above the law, not even a president of the United States."

After an hourslong debate behind closed doors on Tuesday, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee voted 24-16 along party lines to publicly release six years of former President Donald Trump's tax returns.

"The House Ways and Means Committee has righted a historic wrong."

Democrats on the committee supported sending a panel report related to Trump's tax documents from 2015 to 2020 to the full chamber, and published the document online after the Tuesday hearing.

Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), one of the panel members who voted to release the information, toldNBC News that "the actual returns themselves will also be transmitted to the full House and become public, but I was told it will take a few days to a week in order to redact some info that needs to be redacted."

Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen, said that "the committee did right by the American people tonight in its vote to release Trump's tax returns."

"Advocates and the public called on Trump to release his returns while he was running for president and throughout his time in office. Better late than never," she added. "The committee should release these documents as quickly as possible, before the start of the next Congress. All future presidents and nominees should continue to disclose their tax returns to the American people."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) noted after the vote that the watchdog group spent years highlighting how Trump was the first president since former President Richard Nixon not to release his tax returns.

"Accountability comes for everybody," CREW tweeted. "Today is a good day."

Americans for Tax Fairness executive director Frank Clemente had urged the panel to release the records to "the American people, the final arbiters of what is acceptable behavior by our elected leaders," arguing Tuesday that "since Trump is running again for president, it's especially important for voters to know whether he complies with tax law and to learn about his complex finances and how they interact with potential public duties."

"Tax fairness starts at the top: If the president is not paying his fair share or is otherwise abusing the tax laws, the American people have the right to know," Clemente continued, adding that the committee's chair, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), and other Democrats "are to be congratulated for their dogged pursuit of this important information."

Stand Up America president and founder Sean Eldridge also praised the panel members who pushed to make the information public, saying that "with today's vote, Chairman Neal and Ways and Means Committee Democrats have delivered the transparency that the American people deserve from anyone who hopes to occupy the Oval Office."

Boyle said in a statement that "this is one of the most important votes I will ever cast as a member of Congress, and I stand by it 100%. I voted to reinforce this critical principle: No person is above the law, not even a president of the United States."

The committee received the tax documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) earlier this month after years of court battles--and a week after the U.S. Supreme Court, to which Trump appointed three justices, rejected his attempt to block the panel from acquiring the records.

As The New York Times' Charlie Savage noted: "After the vote, House Democrats revealed that the materials they obtained showed that the IRS had failed to audit Trump's tax filings during his first two years in office, despite having a program that purportedly mandates the auditing of sitting presidents. The agency launched an audit only after Richard Neal requested Trump's taxes in 2019 in the name of assessing that auditing program, they said--and it has yet to complete it."

Neal has put forth the Presidential Tax Filings and Audit Transparency Act to address issues at the IRS that his panel uncovered.

Some of Trump's tax history is already public thanks to reporting by the Times, which revealed in September 2020 that he did not pay any federal income taxes in 10 of the 15 years before his White House victory and paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017.

While Trump infamously refused to accept it, he lost reelection in November 2020. His "Big Lie" that the election was stolen from him incited the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which led to his unprecedented second impeachment. The bipartisan House panel investigating the insurrection unanimously voted Monday to refer Trump to the U.S. Department of Justice on four criminal charges.

Despite facing various legal issues related to both his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his business dealings, Trump announced last month that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

This post has been updated with comment from Public Citizen and Stand Up America.

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