US panel votes to make Trump’s tax returns public

A US House of Representatives panel has voted to make six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns public.

On Tuesday evening, the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee voted 24-16 to publish the documents, with all all Republicans opposed to the decision, reports the BBC.

The move caps a nearly four-year legal battle by Democrats to obtain the documents, which was ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court last month.

US Presidents are not required by law to release their tax returns, but for decades they have done so voluntarily.

But Trump broke with tradition in 2016 by refusing to release any of his personal tax returns, becoming the the first since Richard Nixon in 1972 to decline to publicly release his tax returns while campaigning for office.

At the time, he said he would do so after an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit had concluded.

It however, remains unclear when the public will get to see the former President’s financial documents which stem from 2015-20.

“This is one of the most important votes I will ever cast as a member of Congress, and I stand by it 100 per cent,” the BBC quoted committee member, Pennsylvania Democrat Brendan Boyle, as saying on Tuesday night.

But Kevin Brady, the Republican on the committee, said Democrats had just “unleashed a dangerous new political weapon”.

“Congress’ enemies list is back. Every American taxpayer who may get on the wrong side of majority in Congress is now at risk,” said the Texas Congressman.

In response to the development, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung accused the House Democrats of playing politics for moving to release his tax returns to the public.

“This unprecedented leak by lameduck Democrats is proof they are playing a political game they are losing,” CNN quoted Cheung as saying.

“If this injustice can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans without cause.”

In 2020, the New York Times had obtained leaked copies of 18 years of Trump’s tax returns, reports the BBC.

In a series of articles, the newspaper reported that the former President paid no federal taxes in 10 of those 18 years and only $750 in each of his first two years in the White House.

It also disclosed that Trump was in a fight with the IRS over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund he had claimed and owed more than $400 million in debt due by 2024.

Tuesday’s vote came a day after a Democrat-led congressional panel asked the Justice Department to prosecute the former President for insurrection and other criminal charges related to the January 2021 Capitol riot staged by his supporters.

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