Saturday, April 15, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got the IRS sued over its refusal to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about his recent tax filings.

The lawsuit was brought today by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit advocacy group. It seeks to force the IRS to comply with its FOIA request for Trump's personal tax returns from 2010 to the present. The group had submitted a request shortly after Trump's inauguration, and appealed its rejection last month. 

Information about individuals' taxes is legally protected, including from FOIA requests, under almost all circumstances. However, EPIC's request points out that there are statutory exceptions to that rule, including one that permits the IRS to disclose returns in order to correct misstatements of fact, or when doing so would help preserve the integrity of the tax system. Trump has made many public statements concerning his taxes that are either flatly untrue (such as his claim that he does "ZERO" business with Russian entities) or that would undermine public confidence in the IRS if they were true (such as his claim that he has been unfairly audited because he is a "strong Christian").

Trump has repeatedly (and incorrectly) claimed that Americans don't really care about his tax returns, notwithstanding nationwide protests on that very subject today. His motorcade detoured on its way back from one of his Florida golf clubs to avoid driving past some of them lining the streets of his normal route.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • A president's opposition does not cease to exist just because he doesn't agree with them.
  • A desperate need for secrecy about personal financial matters is usually a pretty bad omen in a president.