GOP Presidential hopeful Donald Trump says he can’t release his tax returns because he is currently being audited by the IRS.
“I’m being audited now for two or three years, so I can’t do it [release returns] until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that,” Trump said during Thursday night’s Republican debate.
Tax expert David Cay Johnston tells CNNMoney that an audit would not prevent Trump from releasing his tax returns. Noting that it’s a personal choice for Donald Trump to keep his taxes private.
Mitt Romney echoed Johnston’s statement in a tweet:
No legit reason @realDonaldTrump can't release returns while being audited, but if scared, release earlier returns no longer under audit.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 26, 2016
Audits have become increasingly rare. The IRS is expected to conduct its least amount of audits in 11 years, issuing requests to 1.2 million individuals this year. That’s less than 1% of all individual returns.
Most candidates release their tax returns on their own so voters can understand their financial standing and see what tax bracket they pay in. However, Federal law prohibits government agencies from releasing an individual’s tax return.
Questions about Donald Trump’s tax return started to heat up last week when former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said primary voters would find a “bombshell” hiding in Trump’s returns.
Romney says there are three possibilities for Donald Trump’s tax returns. First, that he hasn’t paid the kind of taxes voters would expect from him. Second, that he isn’t as wealthy as he claims, or third that he hasn’t donated to veterans and disabled people at the rate he has claimed.
During the debate, Sen. Marco Rubio said he would be releasing his returns either Friday or Saturday, while Sen. Ted Cruz said he has already released five years of returns and would release two more years on Friday.