Patterico's Pontifications


Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Request To Shield Tax Records

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:57 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After a three year court battle, this:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.

The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents before Republicans take over the House in January. The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.


“While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting President with an invasive request after leaving office, every President takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August.

“This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug,” Judge David Sentelle, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the panel’s opinion.

P.S.: “The Committee points to instances when Trump has boasted about “a history of aggressive tax avoidance” and has called IRS audits of his business activities “unfair.” Quite possibly, it will all come back to bite him. Bigly.


34 Responses to “Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Request To Shield Tax Records”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (1225fc)

  2. Since he had no hesitation in denying the results of the general election, I doubt he’ll have any qualms about denying the contents of his tax records.

    John B Boddie (18ca17)

  3. 1) “history of aggressive tax avoidance” is not illegal. In fact, tax avoidance is typical of every tax payors, especially the wealthy.

    2) I look forward to future Presidents to show their complete taxes over the years, instead of just the recent years previous candidates have done.

    whembly (d116f3)

  4. The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.

    So group of berobed bureaucrats who cannot keep track of their own paperwork rule others should reveal theirs?

    Piss on’ em. No leaker; no compliance.

    Storm the castle.

    DCSCA (6e74a0)

  5. @3, me too. I honestly can’t see a downside for this.

    Time123 (975613)

  6. The over/under for me getting to see them is about 3 days.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  7. 1) “history of aggressive tax avoidance” is not illegal. In fact, tax avoidance is typical of every tax payors, especially the wealthy.

    I will admit that I try to squeeze the last legal dime out of my tax bill.

    “A fool and his money are soon parted”
    — sign over the IRS HQ entryway

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  8. The main problem with a businessman releasing ALL of his records is that he releases other people’s records, too. Partnerships, for example, have to be reported and other people’s information is necessarily included. If this can be redacted and/or summarized to exclude invading other people’s privacy it would be a lot better. Gifts to individuals (not a Trump issue) also name individuals and their tax ID numbers (I assume these ARE redacted). Gifts to charities can politicize charities who may not want everyone to know that Ted Cruz gave them money.

    The point being here that just because you file form 1040EZ doesn’t mean everyone does, and there is a lot more in a tax return than just numbers.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  9. 2) I look forward to future Presidents to show their complete taxes over the years, instead of just the recent years previous candidates have done.

    Please explain why it is any of your damn business what a politician made 30 years ago.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  10. Trump promised to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign. He can still keep that promise, though it is a bit late.

    That would be the best outcome in this situation, IMHO.

    Jim Miller (f29931)

  11. What I don’t understand is, if the economy is so bad and Trump supporters cannot afford milk, gas, and baby formula, where do they find the money they send him to pay for all the lawyers in all these lawsuits?

    nk (115b95)

  12. me too. I honestly can’t see a downside for this.
    Time123 (975613) — 11/22/2022 @ 3:30 pm

    I’m sure we won’t hear about any downsides until Republicans do it.

    JF (da63a1)

  13. I’m glad that the USSC is holding Trump to his original pledge about releasing his tax returns.

    Paul Montagu (b351b8)

  14. I think every taxpayer should be very diligent and aggressive about avoiding taxes, and saying as much shouldn’t be grounds for an audit by the House of Representatives. The IRS has Trump’s returns and have had every opportunity to review them and audit any red flag issues. The Trump returns will be leaked and crowd sourced, but if the crowd sourcing shows evasion the IRS missed, the IRS should be embarrassed

    I’m self employed in field(s) that are considered by the IRS to have a lot of red flags.
    My returns have been formally audited 4 times in the last 20 years but it is clear to me that the IRS (and state of CA) are constantly reviewing or auditing internally because I get random checks from them $1.76 to thousands. One of the oddest things in a formal IRS audit is them insisting I provide them with copies of returns from past years. What did they do with the returns I sent them? Don’t they keep them on file? Someone once told me this is an artifact from past century and they are fishing to see if you are stupid enough to send the second set of books, but I just think the IRS system is so hopelessly layered with bureaucracy that they cut through the red tape and go direct. State of CA doesn’t even try to audit. They get a notice from IRS that the IRS is auditing me and then the state of CA sends me a letter saying they will be piggybacking on the IRS results and will bill accordingly. The bill of course is due immediately with interest and penalties, but any refund will show up in 90 days

    steveg (e38090)

  15. @9

    2) I look forward to future Presidents to show their complete taxes over the years, instead of just the recent years previous candidates have done.

    Please explain why it is any of your damn business what a politician made 30 years ago.

    Kevin M (1ea396) — 11/22/2022 @ 4:16 pm

    It’s not anyone’s business.

    But, if folks are so interested in Trump’s tax returns, then future Presidents will need to share to the same degree as Trump’s.

    This is what I mean but applying the same rules to Democrats. Time123 might argue that’s governmental abuses. But it’s only applying the same rule to everyone.

    whembly (d116f3)

  16. @13

    I’m glad that the USSC is holding Trump to his original pledge about releasing his tax returns.

    Paul Montagu (b351b8) — 11/22/2022 @ 7:17 pm

    That’s not their justification. Politicians lie all the time and courts simply don’t enforce broken-promises by politicians.

    The court’s justification was that Congress’ oversight more than adequate to overcome Trump’s objection.

    whembly (d116f3)

  17. Yes, whembly. My comment was on the snark end of the spectrum.

    Paul Montagu (b351b8)

  18. Whembly, I said it before and I’ll be more explicit. I have no problem if the House wants to look at the tax returns for Biden, Obama, Bush, Clinton etc. Google will show you that many of them did make their returns public and have for a long time.

    After Nixon the norm was that presidential candidates would make their tax returned public. That was a good norm. Transparency about presidential candidates is good. Respect for the power of congressional oversite is also good, even when that power is used in silly ways.

    You seem opposed to this, is there some harm I’m not seeing or is it just “oppose everything the other side does”?

    Time123 (975613)

  19. @18 I’m not opposed to it.

    What I want acknowledged is that using the Congressional oversight to plow through a POTUS’ tax history is unprecedent, and I’m personally fine with it. IN fact, all politician’s tax records ought to be made public for transparency imo.

    Also, let me state this: Since Nixon, Presidential candidates submitted what essentially amounted to a summary of their taxes. They don’t release all the forms/documentations needed to file the taxes.

    That’s a big difference than what this Congressional subpoena is doing regarding Trump.

    Again, I’m not really that opposed to what’s happening here.

    What I oppose to, is the one-way ratchet such that Democrats cries afoul when the same is applied to them.

    I’m willing to bet a substantial amount of money that if the GOP-led house invokes its own subpoena power for tax records (ala, like Ds did to Trump) for not only Joe Biden, but also his family, Democrats and corporate media will claim government abuse.

    Willing to take such bets?

    whembly (d116f3)

  20. I don’t think the committee is legally allowed to release the tax returns without a vote approving that by the full House, or maybe its the Rules of the House

    The only limitation that the statute places on the tax committees’ ability to obtain tax returns is that, absent taxpayer consent, they must be in closed session when receiving the material—that is, the tax committees cannot receive tax returns from the IRS in a setting open to the public. The law further empowers each of the tax committees to inspect the returns and return information “at such time and in such manner” as its chairman determines, including by delegating the task to “such examiners or agents as the chairman … may designate or appoint.”8

    The law also requires the IRS to furnish tax returns or return information directly to other congressional committees upon their request. The other, nontax committees must be “specially authorized” to inspect the returns or return information by a House- or Senate-approved resolution. That resolution must “specify the purpose for which the return or return information is to be furnished and that such information cannot reasonably be obtained from any other source.”9 These further restrictions do not apply to requests by the tax committees mentioned above.

    While portions of the tax code may be byzantine, Section 6103(f) is straightforward: If Congress asks for any tax returns, the IRS must provide them.

    The committee cannot make them public,
    although maybe they can leak it, and then Kevin McCarthy can bounce the putative leakers from the committee if he gets to be Speaker (still not fully settled, although the dissenters are more likely to settle for some concessions)

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  21. nk (115b95) — 11/22/2022 @ 6:24 pm

    if the economy is so bad and Trump supporters cannot afford milk, gas, and baby formula, where do they find the money they send him to pay for all the lawyers in all these lawsuits?

    Trump supporters are not situated all alike – there are always some who have more money.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  22. Here is an archive of released presidential (and presidential candidate) tax returns.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  23. @22. 504 Gateway Time-out

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  24. Whembly, as long as they’re keeping it to Presidential candidates I’m good.

    I’d add federal elected officials and governors. I think this would become burdensome if applied at local levels. But I’m open to the arguments.

    I think seeking the records of family members would be a bridge too far, but I’m open to exceptions for very good reasons. So Trumps elder 3 /maybe/ his younger 2 *definitely not*.

    Time123 (b674f2)

  25. Then there are people an executive may be close to but who are not family members.

    And this:\You can’t devise a rule that will cover all circumstances.

    And then there was the Bess Myerson scandal:

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    Bess Myerson, a Miss America tarnished by scandal, dies at 90

    Bess Myerson is besieged by newspeople as she emerges from court on Dec. 22, 1988, after she, her boyfriend and a retired state judge were cleared of all charges in an alimony-fixing trial. (UPI)
    By Adam BernsteinJanuary 5, 2015
    Bess Myerson, a New York house painter’s daughter who was crowned Miss America in 1945 and whose vibrant career as a television personality and consumer affairs activist was sullied by a tawdry municipal scandal involving her lover, has died at 90.

    According to public records, she died Dec. 14 in Santa Monica, Calif., her town of residence. Her death was not announced publicly, marking an uncharacteristically obscure end to a life of dazzle and tumult.

    A raven-haired, hazel-eyed beauty who stood 5-foot-10, Ms. Myerson was a captivating figure from the moment she was named the first — and still only — Jewish Miss America. Born to immigrant Jews from Russia, she was raised in a Bronx housing project and embodied an up-from-poverty success story that made her an overnight sensation and possibly the best-known Miss America in the contest’s history.

    For decades, she enjoyed something close to reverence among a generation of Jews who had lived through the Holocaust and found in her win a symbol of Jewish assimilation and acceptance in an otherwise hostile world.

    “In the Jewish community she was the most famous pretty girl since Queen Esther in ancient Persia,” author Susan Dworkin wrote in “Miss America, 1945: Bess Myerson’s Own Story,” a book published in 1987.

    Bess Myerson, of New York City, wears her regal robe and holds the scepter after being crowned Miss America of 1945. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
    Behind the scenes, Ms. Myerson faced a thornier reality. In a time of rampant anti-Semitism, the Miss America pageant director urged her to change her name to make it sound less Jewish; she refused. As a Miss America representative, she found country clubs canceling her visits and corporate sponsorships dropping away.

    She became a spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League and raised millions of dollars for the new country of Israel. She lectured high school students about tolerance: “You can’t be beautiful and hate,” she often said.

    More than a bathing beauty, she had once been a promising talent as a pianist and could hold her own, charming large audiences. She was a fixture on TV quiz shows in the 1950s and 1960s — notably swathed in mink on “The Big Payoff” and as a panelist on “I’ve Got a Secret” — and she parlayed that visibility into a career of public service.

    In 1969, Mayor John V. Lindsay named her New York City’s commissioner of consumer affairs, and in the 1980s she was Mayor Edward I. Koch’s commissioner of cultural affairs. In the 1960s and ’70s, she won presidential appointments to boards or conferences focused on crime and violence, workplace issues, mental health and world hunger. She became a consumer consultant to Citibank and Bristol-Myers, the pharmaceutical company.

    She also cultivated a high profile through her columns for the New York Daily News and Redbook magazine and a syndicated TV show on consumer affairs. Those jobs extended from her reputation as a hard-driving consumer watchdog under Lindsay.

    In 1971, she helped push through one of the toughest consumer protection acts in the country. It called for clearer dating labels for perishable foods and for the inclusion of unit prices on foods to allow buyers to comparison-shop more easily.

    She said her Miss America title often was a hurdle to her work in consumer activism.

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    “When our department served a subpoena on a supermarket, there was a picture in the paper of the president of the supermarket, in his business suit of course, and a picture of me in a bathing suit,” she told the Detroit News. “I think putting labels on people is bad enough, but putting yesterday’s label on somebody is very bad.”

    She said such stereotypes toughened her mettle and turned her into a wily political survivor.

    She lent her celebrity to a string of Democratic candidates in New York, not the least of whom was Koch, who was an obscure Greenwich Village congressman before winning the mayoralty in 1977. He squired her around, and they often were seen holding hands on the hustings. Such sightings helping tamp down speculation that Koch, a lifelong bachelor, was gay; at the time, homosexuality almost certainly would have ended a political career.

    Koch won that race, and Ms. Myerson became a frequent presence at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence. In return, he supported Ms. Myerson’s unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1980. She lost the Democratic primary to then-Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who was defeated in the general election by Alfonse M. D’Amato, a Republican official on Long Island.

    Not long after, Koch named Ms. Myerson commissioner of cultural affairs. But Ms. Myerson’s place in the political firmament soon began to slip. In 1987, she was forced to resign from the $83,000-a-year city post amid bribery and conspiracy charges stemming from her personal life.

    The city tabloids dubbed it the “Bess Mess.”

    In the early 1980s, she became the companion of a wealthy New York sewer contractor Carl A. “Andy” Capasso, who was married at the time and was more than 20 years her junior.

    Capasso was convicted in 1987 of evading hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, and he served two years in prison. A grand jury probe into Capasso’s business deals revealed his messy divorce while seeing Ms. Myerson and an ugly legal battle over alimony payments.

    Ms. Myerson was accused of trying to influence a judge in the Capasso divorce case by giving the judge’s emotionally troubled and seemingly unemployable daughter a $19,000-per-year city job as her assistant in the Department of Cultural Affairs; the job did not last. The judge, Hortense W. Gabel, was a social friend of Ms. Myerson’s and dramatically reduced Capasso’s alimony payments.

    In October 1987, Ms. Myerson, Capasso and Gabel were indicted for conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud — in effect, colluding to fix the alimony payments in Capasso’s favor. But the star witness, the daughter of the judge, appeared by all accounts to be unreliable, and the jury acquitted the defendants of all charges in 1988.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  26. What I don’t understand is, if the economy is so bad and Trump supporters cannot afford milk, gas, and baby formula, where do they find the money they send him to pay for all the lawyers in all these lawsuits?

    They are the thrifty working-class folks he so loves.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  27. I didn’t mean to cut and paste so much – but only the last paragraphs I quoted.

    The job was a job that would ordinarily have attracted no attention.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  28. The only issue here (besides the leaks, crowd-sourcing and spin-doctoring of the returns) is that the requirement to disclose falls unevenly on candidates and does not adequately explore potential lawlessness.

    Example: 2012

    Romney, whose return is very complex and involves multiple business arrangements, releases a summary of returns, listing the bottom-line numbers. For this he is castigated and a senior government official lies about having seen the “real” returns.

    Obama, whose wife is getting a 6-figure sinecure job from a beneficiary of government grants, releases his returns which are fairly simple, if uninformative. His treasury secretary is a known tax cheat, but Congress decides that doesn’t matter and no charges are ever brought.

    The problem is not the returns, but the fact that they are unequally scrutinized and the press only really looks at one of them.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  29. Here’s the best rule: Candidates at every level disclose what they are comfortable with. You vote for whom you want.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  30. Let’s say that Trump’s returns show that he exaggerated a business write-off. I have no doubt he would do that. Would it affect my vote if he did (or didn’t)? No. Would it affect the vote of those who would be OK with him shooting a gay handicapped immigrant nurse on 5th avenue? Probably not.

    This seems more counting coup than anything. And believe me I’d like to see him in prison rather than running again, but this won’t do it; if the IRS didn’t flag anything when they reviewed it (and they did), reasonable doubt is easy to come by.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  31. Regarding tax returns, the only relevant item is conflict of interest….and normally candidates are publicly known well enough to have this information. With Trump, people did not have much insight into his business dealings and who we might be beholden to. Otherwise, the exercise is just a way to embarrass candidates who don’t give a lot to charity. It also triggers the “fair share” scream, which is the morality test of did the candidate use a bunch of loopholes to not maximize his “contributions” to the IRS. If it’s not illegal, who cares. I would be more worried if the person DID NOT takes deductions he was entitled to. Now, we also hear a lot about establishing whether Trump is lying about his wealth. Now there are certainly valuations in there, losses and gains, but you can at best get an idea of whether the wealth is going up or down. Again, it’s kind of a gotcha with not a lot of relevance that requires oversight. You don’t need his tax return to know he’s a grifter.

    Yes, it’s become custom AND Trump did promise to release them, so at this point it looks like he lied and never intended to release them. Does he earn a demerit for that? He’s launched bigger lies. Should this open up requirements on family members and cabinet members to provide tax returns? Sounds like a big fishing exercise and more what-aboutism. If there’s cause, I guess. I want government servants to have followed the law and respect the law. I’m not sure if this exercise clarifies that….

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  32. Trump constantly brags he pays the least taxes possible, and he may have even paid no taxes in some years. No problem if it was legal, and the IRS likely would have investigated.

    But Trump also brags about his immense wealth and has backed that claim up with countless statements and documents, often supported by his accountants. Taken together, those raise tax fraud issues and the NY trial is about that.

    I expect Trump — the man who claims he is a brilliant when it comes to taxes — will do shat he always does. Blame others. Probably his accountants.

    DRJ (44a85e)

  33. Kevin M (1ea396) — 11/23/2022 @ 10:18 am

    treasury secretary is a known tax cheat, but Congress decides that doesn’t matter and no charges are ever brought.

    I don’t recall if there was more than one issue, but one they talked about was using Turbo tax, which didn’t cover an unusual situation. Timothy Geithner worked for some international organization in New York, where his income was exempt from federal income tax, and I would guess that he did not get a W-2 form for that but it was considered earned income and was not exempt from Social Security tax (in this case self-employment) He was notified of this, (that he needed to pay self-employment tax) but this was not programmed into Turbo tax. One reason the IRS likes people to use professional tax preparers is because errors made the taxpayer are chalked up to ignorance,

    Sammy Finkelman (9905c7)

  34. I have no doubts at all that Trump paid zero income tax for numerous years. Trump is also one of those guys that takes credit for the accomplishments of those he pays for services and his “genius” is usually him taking the credit because the people work for him- the great Donald Trump who said “do it”. I will say that it serves Trump well to hire people that are smarter than him to do a job. Hiring people with great skills, getting them the resources they need and then getting out of the way is a good strategy for success, but Trump seems the type to not get out of the way and can be penurious when it comes to resources, so it should be interesting.

    Trump admits he has written off some huge losses. In consecutive years. HRC mocked him for it throughout her run. So how do I guess he did that?

    I got a note a month or two back from a person who is smarter than me outlining this years “loss harvesting” program to offset gains. Losses happen because most portfolios have winners and losers. Sometimes with equities, there is little you can do, for example if you have large position that gets an in the money cash buyout. Real estate loss harvesting can be very different than equities harvesting due to the deep leveraging real estate offers, the lower than equities risk tax free cash you can raise by refinancing, the depreciation segregation and schedule, while also the avoiding and/or offsetting the depreciation recapture tax.
    My guess is that Trumps real trouble will be in if he committed fraud by undervaluing assets for property tax assessment while simultaneously overvaluing that same asset for the purpose of obtaining new loans. Trump should have refinanced much of his portfolio over the last decade or so because money was cheap, so there will be a lot of transactions to look at, a lot of timing his people needed to keep straight. Even if Trump does get some properties flagged, any punishment beyond tax, penalties, interest would probably depend on how many transactions within the total were problematic (10% + ?) and/or the percentage by $$$ of total transactions

    steveg (9c77e2)

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