Release of federal income tax returns to third parties is prohibited by statute and is punished by regulation (26 U.S. Code § 6103 – Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information; 26 CFR § 301.7216-1 – Penalty for disclosure or use of tax return information).
There is also a common sense public policy reason behind the promise of confidentiality. It encourages tax filers to be honest.
But that didn’t deter the New York Times from publishing an article exposing 20 years of President Trump’s federal tax returns.
The result of the NYT’s gleeful reveal?
They offended taxpayers everywhere. If Trump’s returns could be stolen, it could happen to anyone.
(Ironically, the NYT may have taken the issue of Trump’s returns off the table. What’s going to happen to the other investigations seeking his returns? Did the NYT spoil their fun?)
So Trump had real estate deductions. If Democrats don’t like the tax code they can amend it.
Most taxpayers probably give him a thumb’s up. Who wants to pay taxes?
Certainly not Democrat mega donors who are also active in real estate and benefit from the deductions and write-offs.
Did Trump’s returns uncover any illegal activity? Not according to the IRS.
So what’s the big deal?
The Big Deal is that the NYT revealed stolen confidential tax returns. Secondly, it impaired Trump’s business dealings. Companies have to compete in the marketplace in multiple areas, including the negotiation of financing agreements. The NYT gave Trump’s competitors an edge.
Lost in this shuffle is the question of where did the NYT get the returns?
There are a number of former Trump employees who got close to Trump and then exploited his generosity and attention
There are many Democrat politicians who would gladly leak data obtained from federal employees with access to the information.
And where did they go with their information? To the New York Times which famously published ex-FBI Director, James Comey’s “notes” of his conversations with President Trump.