The IRS Didn’t Audit Trump for 2 Years of His Presidency — Despite Program That Mandates Presidential Audits

Former US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, US, on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Trump used a Pennsylvania rally to vent his anger at an FBI search of his Florida home and President Joe Bidens attack on political extremism, staking his claim as his successors election rival in 2024.

Former US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, US, on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Trump used a Pennsylvania rally to vent his anger at an FBI search of his Florida home and President Joe Bidens attack on political extremism, staking his claim as his successors election rival in 2024.

Donald Trump at a Pennsylvania rally.
Photo: Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty

Former President Donald Trump was not audited by the Internal Revenue Service during his first two years in office, despite a program that requires sitting presidents to be audited.

The failure to audit Trump was disclosed on Tuesday by a House committee that recently voted to make public some of the former president’s tax returns. In a report, the committee revealed “only one mandatory audit was started under the prior Administration and the program was otherwise dormant, at best.”

The report further detailed how returns filed by Trump in 2017 were audited in 2019, and only after the committee requested access to his taxes and any associated audits. Those audits have not yet been completed.

Richard Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement: “This a major failure of the IRS under the prior administration and certainly not what we had hoped to find.”

An internal IRS policy requires a mandatory examination of individual income tax returns filed by presidents and vice presidents. In its report, the committee recommends that Congress codify the mandatory audit program to require the audits by law.

A separate report released by the committee sheds light on Trump’s taxes, revealing that he paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes during the first three years of his presidency, and $0 in 2020, citing millions of dollars in losses.

“Numerous investigative reports have revealed that the former President, through the complex arrangements of his personal and business finances, has engaged in aggressive tax strategies and decades-long tax avoidance schemes,” the report says.

A protester stands in front of Trump Tower in New York

A protester stands in front of Trump Tower in New York

Seth Wenig/AP

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Trump has long worked to shield his taxes from public view, and has often maintained that he was under audit and therefore unable to release the documents.

The report details how, “both as a candidate and once elected,” Trump frequently claimed he was being audited, once saying, “Why is it that every single year, I’m audited, whereas other people that are very rich, people are never audited.”

Trump was the first president since Richard Nixon to not release his tax returns.

And while Trump himself did not face expected audits, some of his harshest critics did.

Former FBI director James Comey and his top deputy, Andy McCabe, both faced auditing by the IRS during Trump’s time in office, an occurrence that Comey has speculated was not random given former president’s vocal criticism of the two men.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, Comey’s audit began in 2019 and focused on his 2017 tax return. McCabe’s audit began in 2021, nine months after Trump left office, and focused on his tax return for 2019. Both were launched by the agency run by Trump-appointed commissioner Charles Rettig.

Ultimately, Comey and his wife were found to have overpaid their federal income tax and were refunded $347.