Trump says he won't release tax returns

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is sticking to his new explanation for why he can't yet release copies of his recent tax returns: The IRS is auditing him, as Trump says it has for the last 12 years.

See Full Article

"Until my audit is finished, you're not going to see anything," Trump said Friday, adding that he believes the government has unfairly targeted his returns. "I'm not going to complicate things."

Tax experts say that explanation has them scratching their heads -- emboldening Trump critics who argue that the celebrity businessman-turned-candidate's personal finances remain unexamined.

During Thursday's debate, Trump predicted what anyone reviewing his tax returns would find: "nothing, nothing." But the odds of being randomly audited every year for a decade is vanishingly small -- and Trump's statement that "four or five" years of his tax returns are actively being audited raised even more questions. The IRS's normal statute of limitations for an audit is three years -- though that time frame is extended in instances of substantial underreporting and there is no time limit on reviews in the event of fraud.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions from the AP about why the IRS would be auditing his tax returns past the normal three year period. At the Christie endorsement event, Trump ignored questions from a reporter on why he would keep private earlier returns not at risk of audit.

With both Ted Cruz and Rubio having pledged to release their own returns -- an invariably unpleasant rite of passage for every major party nominee since 1976 -- Trump will soon stand alone among the major Republican candidates in having not yet produced them. And, despite Trump's claims to the contrary, the last Republican nominee -- Mitt Romney -- had long since released two years of tax returns by this time in the 2012 cycle.

Romney has speculated that a "bombshell" is lurking in Trump's returns -- perhaps indications of trouble in his business empire. And Cruz --who normally boasts of his plans to dismantle the IRS -- declared that "the voters need to know" if the government is homing in on possible wrongdoing.

Given the complex matrix of partnerships and business structures disclosed on Trump's filings with the Federal Election Commission, the scope of information available through Trump's personal tax returns is difficult to predict. But the nature of Trump's charitable endeavours, his effective tax rate and the underlying profitability of his business operations would all likely loom large. Similar questions dogged Romney until late in the general election -- suggesting that the focus on Trump's taxes may not quickly abate.

"If you are not prepared for this level of scrutiny of your financial affairs, you should rethink your vocational choice," said Joseph Thorndike, a tax historian and contributing editor to Tax Analysts, an accounting trade publication. "This one doesn't go away."

If Donald Trump has been audited for a dozen years straight, Trump would be certainly right to think that the process isn't random. According to statistics published by the IRS, between 2005 and 2013, audit rates for earners bringing in more than $1 million faced ranged between 5 per cent and 12 per cent a year.

"Why am I audited every single year?" Donald Trump asked at a press conference Friday, insinuating unfair scrutiny of his taxes began under the Bush administration.

But regular audits wouldn't necessarily be a sign of anything more than the complexity of Trump's tax returns, Thorndike said: "No one claims it's a lottery."

There is no way to independently verify if Trump is in fact the subject to numerous active audits. But Thorndike said tax attorneys he's spoken with are generally sympathetic to the desire not to make tax returns public while they're being audited.

"If the returns are out there, then no one can hide -- the taxpayer can't hide, and the authorities can't hide," Thorndike said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Blast in Kabul kills 14, Afghanistan's returning VP escapes unharmed

    World News CBC News
    Afghanistan's first vice-president, a former Uzbek warlord, escaped unharmed, but 14 people were killed in an explosion near the airport as he returned home on Sunday after living in Turkey for over a year, according to security officials. Source
  • Trump says redacted documents on wiretapping of ex-adviser Carter Page 'misled the courts'

    World News CBC News
    President Donald Trump asserted without evidence Sunday that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page "confirm with little doubt" that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. Source
  • U.K. police think boy, 3, was attacked with acid at store

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- A 3-year-old boy suffered severe burns on his face and arm during a suspected acid attack in England that investigators think was deliberate, police said Sunday. West Mercia police Chief Superintendent Mark Travis said police were working to identify the substance that burned the child Saturday at a discount store in Worcester. Source
  • Who are the White Helmets? Explaining the Syrian 'do-gooders'

    World News CTV News
    The volunteer group spirited out of Syria under cover of night has been the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and was once considered a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize. The White Helmets and their families were rescued by the Israeli military and brought to Jordan, where they will be resettled in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Source
  • Three people dead, one injured in crash near Belledune, New Brunswick

    Canada News CTV News
    BELLEDUNE, N.B. -- Police are investigating after a two-vehicle crash in northeastern New Brunswick claimed the lives of three people and sent one other to hospital. Northeast District RCMP say Bathurst officers responded to the collision on Highway 11 near Belledune, N.B. Source
  • As Okanagan fires stabilize, officials warn of coming heat in B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    Though many of the fires burning through B.C.'s Okanagan stabilized on Saturday thanks to cooler conditions, officials are expecting they could ramp up again as temperatures rise. "The situation is definitely stabilized from where we were at, say, 72 hours ago," said fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek. Source
  • Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau's nanny

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - The nanny caring for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's kids has been given a full-time salary and a slight pay increase compared with the reported hourly rate she was paid shortly after Trudeau took office in 2015. Source
  • Minimum wage increases bite into funding boost for Canada Summer Jobs program

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Rising provincial minimum wages have cut into the reach of the Liberal government's oft-touted increase to summer jobs spending by reducing the number of weekly hours being funded this year. The Liberals have doubled spending on the politically popular program to approximately $220 million in order to boost the number of available jobs to 70,000 from about 35,000. Source
  • Crews from other provinces, U.S., Mexico helping Ontario fight forest fires

    Canada News CBC News
    Crews fighting forest fires in northern Ontario are receiving help from other provinces, the U.S. and Mexico as they try to contain several blazes after days of hot and humid weather. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a release that, as of Saturday night, 64 forest fires were burning in the northern and northeastern half of the province, with 29 of them out of control. Source
  • With 29 fires out of control, Ontario gets help from U.S., Mexico, other provinces

    Canada News CBC News
    Crews fighting forest fires in northern Ontario are receiving help from other provinces, the U.S. and Mexico as they try to contain several blazes after days of hot and humid weather. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said in a release that, as of Saturday night, 64 forest fires were burning in the northern and northeastern half of the province, with 29 of them out of control. Source