Financial disclosure is a big thing in the political world. Every presidential candidate for decades has followed the custom of sharing their tax returns — well, except for Donald Trump — and now presidential candidates are even releasing their tax information. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), a 2020 contender in the Democratic field, is one of the latest to share his returns, but that's raising some concerns. Bernie Sanders' tax returns have the internet wondering when President Donald Trump will share his, because he's been dodging this for years. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on whether the president would share his tax returns, but did not hear back.
According to The Hill, Sanders released his tax returns on Monday, April 15, providing insight into how much money he made over the past 10 years. The returns reportedly show that Sanders made more than $1 million dollars in each of the last two years, which places him in the top 1 percent of earners in the United States. Although Sanders has faced criticism for his income, with Twitter users saying his millionaire status undercuts his populist views, some are praising the fact that he shared the returns to begin with. And that also has them wondering: What the heck is taking Trump so long?
Trump has been avoiding releasing his returns since 2016, saying he could not release them because he was under audit. But in 2018, he doubled back, saying the audit actually doesn't prevent him from releasing the returns. (The IRS itself issued a statement to USA Today in 2016 that clarified that an individual can, in fact, release their tax returns regardless of an audit.) “I didn’t say it prevented me, I said lawyers will tell you not to do it,” said Trump. The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's previous request for comment on Trump's failure to make his tax returns public since 2016.
Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, has claimed the president is keeping his returns close for other reasons. In a testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 27, Cohen claimed the "real reason" Trump won't share them is because he might face penalties if his returns are reviewed by experts. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on Cohen's claims. Cohen said,
What he didn’t want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces, and then he’ll end up in an audit and he’ll ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties and so on.
What's more, Cohen claimed that Trump has allegedly changed his net worth in order to decrease his real estate taxes and inflated them in order to appear on Forbes' "World's Richest" lists. In a statement about Cohen's testimony at the time, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Cohen was being "given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.” The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's specific questions about Cohen's claims at the time. Yikes.
Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, may be about to get to the bottom of this, though. On April 3, Neal, who is the only member of Congress with the ability to get Trump's tax returns (because the committee has the power to ask the Treasury Department for tax information), requested six years of Trump's tax returns from the IRS, per NPR. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on Neal's request, but did not immediately hear back. The House Ways and Means Committee did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment. According to Politico, Neal asked for the documents by April 10, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the department would miss the deadline as it consulted the Justice Department on the matter. On April 13, Neal demanded that the IRS release the returns by April 23, per Politico.
We'll see what happens. If Bernie can share his, why not Trump?