Donald Trump is the first candidate in 40 years not to release his taxes.
Trump and his campaign have steadfastly insisted that Trump will release his tax returns as soon as a “routine audit” has been completed.
“Donald Trump and I are both going to release our tax returns. I’ll release mine in the next week. Donald Trump will be releasing his tax returns at the completion of an audit,” Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, said at the beginning of September.
This explanation, however, makes little sense because most of Trump’s taxes are not under audit. Moreover, nothing prevents Trump from releasing taxes that are under audit — and the IRS has made it clear that they would not hold it against him if he did.
Appearing on a Maine radio station, WGAN, Trump’s son Eric revealed a more plausible explanation: the content of Trump’s tax returns would damage him politically.
“They would go through every single page for the last 400 years and they would make issue of everything,” Eric Trump said, “You almost couldn’t at this point.”
Eric said that Mitt Romney’s experience taught him that releasing tax returns is counterproductive.
“As soon as [Romney] released his tax returns they just killed him and they pounded him and they pounded him and they pounded him. It almost becomes a total distraction,” he said.
In 2012, Donald Trump encouraged Romney to release his tax returns.
The issue of Trump’s taxes has taken a more central role in the campaign since the New York Times reported on his 1995 returns, which showed Trump claimed a $915 million loss.
Trump’s 1995 return, the Times reported, would have provided enough deductions to allow him to completely avoid paying income for nearly two decades.
Eric Trump’s statements elaborate on his comments in August on CNBC. At that time, Eric Trump said releasing tax returns would enable “a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things that they know nothing about.”