Senate Finance Committee Chair Ways & Means Investigation of Presidential Audit Program

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement in reaction to the Ways & Means Committee investigation of the Presidential Audit Program:

“When Donald Trump became the first presidential nominee since Watergate to refuse to release his tax returns, I introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. This legislation would have required sitting presidents to make their three most recent tax returns public. I will continue to push to pass that bill to ensure future presidents release their returns.

“The Ways & Means Committee’s blockbuster investigation reveals two key findings in my view.

“First, the IRS was asleep at the wheel, and the presidential audit program is broken. There is no justification for the failure to conduct the required presidential audits until a congressional inquiry was made. I have additional questions about the extent to which resource issues or fear of political retaliation from the White House contributed to lapses here.

“The House will soon vote on legislation to codify and reform the presidential audit program, and I will work to pass the bill through the Senate.

“Second, Donald Trump’s tax returns exemplify the shortcomings of our tax code and consequences of Republicans’ decades-long fight to gut the IRS.

“These are issues much bigger than Donald Trump. Trump’s returns likely look similar to those of many other wealthy tax cheats—hundreds of partnership interests, highly-questionable deductions, and debts that can be shifted around to wipe out tax liabilities.

“All of this goes completely unchecked when you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than have your hundreds of partnerships audited. This is why we’ve fought to give the IRS the resources it needs. It takes skilled examiners to review these types of returns, and the agency needs the staff to go up against the armies of accountants and lawyers the wealthy have at their disposal.

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“Additional IRS resources are only one piece of the puzzle. We need legislation to simplify the tax code, particularly in the area of partnerships. Former Commissioner Rettig testified that the IRS is completely outgunned in this area. Putting an end to the games wealthy tax cheats play with their partnerships is going to be a priority going forward.”

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