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The Trump rule: House passes bill requiring yearly audit of president’s taxes

The House of Representatives passed a bill mandating annual reviews of a president’s tax returns Thursday, following a committee move to publicly disclose former President Donald Trump’s tax returns earlier in the week.

Dubbed the Presidential Tax Filings and Audit Transparency Act, the measure cleared the lower chamber 222-201 largely along party lines. The bill follows revelations that the IRS did not audit Trump during two of the years he served as president.


Under IRS policy, the tax agency is required to audit sitting presidents annually, but those rules were agency requirements. The bill that passed the House Thursday would enshrine that policy into federal law. Although the reasons are not entirely clear, the IRS declined to audit Trump’s tax returns in 2017 and 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Trump had filed tax returns during both those years, but the agency didn’t audit him until 2019 after Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the outgoing chair of the committee asked the IRS commissioner for his tax returns, per the report. Ironically, IRS tax audits were one of the reasons Trump cited for not divulging his tax returns to the public.

Additionally, the bill would mandate the IRS audit entities controlled by the president and have the president’s tax returns disclosed within about three months of filing.

“The IRS has failed to administer its own mandatory audit program policies, so the best available recourse is for Congress to fill this void with legislation that eliminates the IRS’s discretion in the matter. That’s what we are doing today,” Neal declared in a floor speech.

On Tuesday the House Ways and Means Committee released its report about its inquiry into how the IRS oversaw its tax audit system during the Trump administration. During that vote, the panel greenlit the release of six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns, but the document trove has not been published yet, because it must first undergo redactions.


Committee members obtained Trump’s federal tax returns from 2015 to 2020 following a Supreme Court decision last month. Data from the tax returns revealed that Trump reported hefty losses during the six-year period and paid minimal income taxes.

Many House Republicans have condemned the move to release Trump’s returns, warning that it could come back to haunt the Democrats.

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