Since 2015 when he started his bid for the presidency, Mr Trump has faced repeated calls to release full details of his filings. Records suggest almost every mainstream presidential nominee for the past four decades has done so, the only exception being Republican Gerald Ford in 1976.
Mr Trump has claimed he is being audited by the IRS, and that he will release the records once that is completed, even though experts say there is no reason records cannot be made public while an audit is going on.
Now, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representative’s ways and mean committee, congressman Richard Neal, has written to the IRS requesting a copy. Democrats are seeking to throw light on Mr Trump’s complex financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.
Mr Neal cited a little known tax code in his request for six years of Mr Trump’s personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018. It said he also requested the tax returns of eight of the president’s business entities, according to CNN, which was first to report the development.
“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Mr Neal wrote. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”
The move by Mr Neal represented the first time in 45 years that the IRS had been formally approached for a president’s tax returns.
It is likely set off an intense legal fight between Democrats, who now control the House, and the White House.
In 2017, Mr Trump said he might release his tax returns once he left office.
Asked about the letter Mr Neal said: “We’re under audit, despite what people said, and we’re working that out. I’m always under audit, it seems. But I’ve been under audit for many years because the numbers are big, and I guess when you have a name you’re audited.”
He added: “But until such time as I’m not under audit I would not be inclined to do that.”
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