On Wednesday morning, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort announced that Donald Trump “will not be releasing [his tax returns],” the latest indication that Trump plans to break the 40 year tradition of major party presidential candidates releasing their tax returns in the interest of being transparent with voters.
Every major party nominee has released his or her tax returns since Gerald Ford, who released a “tax summary” in 1976 in lieu of his full returns. Trump has previously suggested that he can’t — or just won’t? — release his tax returns because he’s “under audit,” but that didn’t stop Richard Nixon, of all people, who voluntarily released his under-audit returns as president in 1973.
There are a number of possibilities why Trump refuses to release his returns. Here are a few:
- As Trump himself highlighted on Tuesday night, the returns could show Trump investments in Russia — or conversely, Russian investments in Trump.
- Or Trump’s returns could show that he’s rarely paid any income tax at all. We know Trump paid no income taxes in at least five of the past forty years — 1978, 1979, 1984, 1991, and 1993 — so there are bound to be other years where he paid nothing whatsoever, let alone his fair share.
- We’d also gain a much better understanding of Trump’s true net-worth if he releases his returns; and that’s got to scare him, because all estimates point to it being far less than he claims. Trump’s bragged he’s worth more than $10 billion — but Bloomberg recently pegged his real net-worth at around $3 billion, so about 30% of what he’s claimed it to be, suggesting yet another Trump lie that he’d really hate to see be debunked publicly.
- And then there are the charitable donations — or near total lack thereof. According to a Washington Post investigation of Trump’s charitable giving, the self-proclaimed $10-billion-dollar man donated just $10,000 to charity over 7 years, through March 2016. We won’t know how much he’s really given to certainty unless he releases his returns, but all signs point to little to no charitable giving in any given year.
Published: Jul 27, 2016