Even though Donald Trump promised to release his tax returns that were not under audit, he never did. We can easily surmise that they are full of conflicts of interest, or worse.
But what we didn’t realize is that legally, Congress actually has the power to obtain individual tax returns and even disclose them publicly, if it is in the public interest (which in this case, it certainly is). And it doesn’t even take all of Congress to do this, it only needs a Congressional committee.
There is precedent for this. Back in 1974 Nixon cheated on his taxes, and the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation obtained his return, and discovered that Nixon actually owed roughly half his net worth at the time in back taxes. Because this was definitely in the public interest, the committee released both their findings and Nixon’s tax return information to the public.
Interestingly, this whole scandal is what prompted Nixon to famously declare “I am not a crook“.
Of course, all such committees are currently controlled by Republicans, but enough Republicans could get fed up enough with Trump in order to investigate Trump’s taxes. It would only take a single committee. Or else the Democrats could win back either House of Congress and do it themselves.
Also published on Medium.