It’s April 15, and nobody has seen Donald Trump’s tax returns outside of the IRS. That’s led to one group suing the agency over a lack of transparency.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) just announced a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the IRS for failing to reveal President Trump’s tax returns, arguing that the transparency is necessary to maintain the “integrity and fairness” of the U.S. tax system. In an official statement, EPIC said the lawsuit was necessary as a FOIA request to see Trump’s tax returns was denied, along with the group’s appeal of the original decision.
“There has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS,” EPIC’s statement read.
In addition to the issues of “integrity and fairness,” EPIC argued the IRS has the responsibility of providing transparency to the public about any financial obligations the President of the United States may have to foreign governments, like Russia.
“In the history of the United States, there has never been greater interest in the public release of an individual’s tax records than those of Donald J. Trump,” stated EPIC president Marc Rotenberg.
Alan Butler, an attorney for the group, found that because there may be “misstatements of fact” regarding Trump’s taxes, the agency is still allowed by law to release the president’s tax documents to the public.
“As a general matter, tax records are protected under federal privacy laws,” Butler stated. “However, EPIC uncovered a key provision in the IRS regulations that permits the release of tax records in certain circumstances to correct misstatements of fact.”
In addition to the privacy group’s chief arguments, they also cite the words of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has backed up the assertion that tax returns should be made public by saying “type[s] of factual misstatements should trigger disclosure of return information.”
For his part, President Trump has argued that he would be happy to release his tax returns after an ongoing audit is completed. However, Trump initially made the claim that his tax returns were being audited during a Republican presidential primary debate in February of 2016. As of this writing, he has still not released anything to the public.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.