US President Donald Trump has said that his tax returns are currently undergoing an auditing process, and that he will not publish them in the process.
But there is no legal reason that prevents Trump from publishing his statements while an audit is under way, and Trump will be the first president in nearly fifty years who does not make these statements publicly.
Is Trump subject to an audit?
We don’t know that for sure because it’s a classified matter.
It is the person who is being audited or their lawyer who can publicly release the information. The Internal Revenue Service – which carries out the review process – is not allowed to disclose whether an individual’s financial resources are subject to audit.
It has been the practice since the 1970s for the accounts of US presidents to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
Consequently, it is possible that President Trump’s accounts have come under scrutiny since he took office in 2017.
Even before he took office, a Trump lawyer posted a letter saying that his tax returns had been subject to “continuous examination” since 2002.
The letter said that an audit of his declarations had been ongoing since 2009, but it also indicated that the Internal Revenue Service had completed its work in examining Trump’s accounts during the period 2002-2008.
And President Trump has not released his tax returns for any of those years.
Before running for president, Trump said: “If I decide to run for president, I will undoubtedly file my tax returns.”
But he emphasized that he would only do so when any auditing process ended.
Can Trump publish his tax returns if they are audited?
Although it has been a standard practice for presidents while in office to undergo an audit, every president since Gerald Ford has published complete tax returns while in office.
Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have done so during their presidency, and there is no law that would prevent Trump from doing the same.
However, he is not legally required to make his tax returns public.
And there is a law that states that the president must deliver his tax returns to the US Congress for them to be reviewed in secret if asked to do so.
Democratic lawmakers requested it, but Republicans questioned whether they could demonstrate a “legitimate legislative objective” as required by the law.
When asked about the law last April, President Trump said, “No, there is no law. You know, I was elected last time with this same issue. And while I’m going through an audit, I’m not going to.”
There is also an ongoing court battle over the president’s tax returns – but even if his financial records are turned over to investigators, they will likely remain hidden from public view unless he decides to disclose them.