President Donald Trump continues to hold the line on refusing to release his tax returns.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee’s deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of his personal and business tax returns, Trump said: “I won’t do it.”
“There is no law, as you know, I got elected last time with the same issue and while I’m under audit, I won’t do it. If I’m not under audit, I would do it, I have no problem with it, but while I’m under audit, I would not give my taxes,” Trump said.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, appearing before a Senate Finance committee hearing on Wednesday, said that he is “working with counsel and anticipating responding” to the House request for Trump’s returns.
Rettig added that he has not either been directly or indirectly asked not to comply with Neal’s request to turn over the returns from inside the White House or elsewhere.
He declined to answer questions after the hearing about his plans for responding to Neal.
“I am unable to discuss that with you at this moment,” Rettig told CNN after the hearing.
Technically, there’s nothing preventing Trump from releasing his tax returns now. Most tax attorneys would typically advise a client against doing so if they’re under audit to avoid further scrutiny. Once the tax returns are out, reporters could find something that the IRS missed. Of course, most tax attorneys don’t represent presidents or people running for the White House.
Regardless of those risks, past presidents released their tax returns while in office. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both did during their tenure. (But neither of them led a sprawling business empire like Trump, who is involved in approximately 500 corporate entities.)
Trump suggested that “frankly, the people don’t care” whether they see his tax returns, noting that he won in 2016 with the same audit issue and that he has released a 104-page summary of his assets and values.
“I built a great company, one of the best companies, I have some of the greatest assets in the world, I did a good job, and now, frankly, I don’t care about them, I only care about the United States,” Trump said Wednesday. “But I have no obligation to do that while I’m under audit. And no lawyer would tell you to release your tax returns while you’re under audit.”