House Democrats voted on Tuesday to publicly release materials related to former President Donald Trump's personal tax returns, a stunning loss for the embattled former president after years of fighting to protect his finances from public scrutiny. The committee voted 24-16, along party lines, to submit the tax filings to the US House. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Kildee of Michigan told reporters on Capitol Hil that the panel would be releasing two reports covering the IRS audit program of presidential tax returns, legislative recommendations to strengthen tax transparency, and the six years of Trump's tax filings — after all personally identifying information has been redacted.Kildee anticipated the redactions would take hours but not spill into several days. The outcome caps a protracted legal battle that involved heated exchanges on Capitol Hill, ping-ponging throughout the court system — culminating in a US Supreme Court stacked with three Trump appointees denying his last-ditch appeal for political cover — and lots of "see-they're-out-to-get-me" messaging from the uncooperative Trump White House. The committee opened its hearing publicly for a few minutes before proceeding with a closed-door meeting that took more than four hours. House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal said after the vote on Tuesday evening that the redacted inforamtion would include social security numbers, street addresses, personal identification numbers, and banking information. Retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who also served on the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol voted for the release of Trump's tax filings.The information may for the first time reveal the exact details of Trump's personal wealth, his tax payments, and his charitable giving — or could contain a summary. Some of this was already revealed in 2020 when The New York Times obtained decades of Trump's tax information.
The Times' reporting revealed that Trump reported losing vast sums of money over an extended period and that he paid no federal income tax for years. US Treasury officials gave Neal Trump's tax filings for 2015-2020 in late November. He put in for access to the sensitive financial records in April 2019, asking the Internal Revenue Service to share the information so the committee could review the agency's auditing process. "After a long process, this was not about being punitive, it was not about being malicious, and there were no leaks from the committee," Neal said at the conclusion of the vote. "We adhered carefully to the law." The unusual use of congressional authority to examine private tax returns came about after scandal-plagued Trump bucked decades of tradition by refusing to publicly release his filings while running for president in 2016, and throughout his single term in office.