The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee has voted along party lines to publicly release a a report on years of Donald Trump's tax returns, which the former president has long tried to shield.
Now that lawmakers have voted 24-16 to move forward with plans to release the returns, it's unclear how quickly that would happen.
But after a yearslong battle that ultimately resulted in the Supreme Court clearing the way last month for the Treasury Department to send the returns to Congress, Democrats have been under pressure to act aggressively.
The committee received six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses. And with just two weeks left until Republicans formally take control of the House, Tuesday's meeting could be the last opportunity for Democrats to disclose whatever information they have gleaned.
Republicans have railed against the potential release, arguing that it would set a dangerous precedent.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the committee’s top Republican,has called any release of Trump’s tax records a “dangerous new political weapon” that “even Democrats will come to regret.”
Trump has long had a complicated relationship with his personal income taxes.
As a presidential candidate in 2016, he broke decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax forms to the public. He bragged during a presidential debate that year that he was “smart” because he paid no federal taxes and later claimed he wouldn't personally benefit from the 2017 tax cuts he signed into law that favored people with extreme wealth, asking Americans to simply take him at his word.
Tax records would have been a useful metric for judging his success in business. The image of a savvy businessman was key to a political brand honed during his years as a tabloid magnet and star of “The Apprentice” television show. They also could reveal any financial obligations - including foreign debts - that could influence how he governed.
But Americans were largely in the dark about Trump's relationship with the IRS until October 2018 and September 2020, when The New York Times published two separate series based on leaked tax records.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 articles showed how Trump received a modern equivalent of at least $413 million from his father's real estate holdings, with much of that money coming from what the Times called “tax dodges” in the 1990s. Trump sued the Times and his niece, Mary Trump, in 2021 for providing the records to the newspaper. In November, Mary Trump asked an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision to reject her claims that her uncle and two of his siblings defrauded her of millions of dollars in a 2001 family settlement.
The 2020 articles showed that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018. Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the past 15 years because he generally lost more money than he made.
Trump has argued there is little to be gleaned from the tax returns even as he has fought to keep them private.