Says he is in no rush to release before the November election, which would make him the first presidential candidate in forty years not to do so.
Donald Trump, the standard bearer for the GOP now that he has all but clinched the party’s nomination, got awfully testy Friday morning when pressed about his tax returns, stating that voters don’t have an inherent right to see the documents before November, retorting in an interview that his tax rate is “none of your business” to host George Stephanopoulos.
Trump’s rhetoric has become increasingly combative as journalists continue to press him about his tax returns, in particular given that the entirety of his career has been spent in the private sector. Trump continues to claim that he has been audited by the Internal Revenue Service every year since 2002, and has at times laughably pandered to certain electorates by explaining it as the result of being “targeted as a strong Christian.”
While he was reminded Friday morning by Stephanopoulos that every presidential candidate has released his tax returns since 1976, he stood by his insistence on waiting until after the IRS audit is completed, despite an official statement in February released by the IRS confirming that an audit does not prevent a candidate or public figure from making their information public.
Stephanopoulos continued to press further, asking Trump in the simplest terms possible if voters have a right to see his tax returns before making their decision in November, particularly as the first major candidate in American history to have zero public experience in politics, cabinet/agency administration, or the military.
“No, I don’t think they do. But I do say this, I will really gladly give them — not going to learn anything but it’s under routine audit,” the GOP front-runner said, “When the audit ends I’m going to present them. That should be before the election. I hope it’s before the election. But when the audit ends I’ve had even journalists say that, no, nobody should give until audits are over, I’ve had journalists say that.”
When Stephanopoulos pivoted towards trying to get the candidate to at the very least reveal his actual tax rate, Trump defensively fired back that it was “none of your business,” before adding that it will be available when he releases the full returns.
The issue of Trump’s tax returns is shaping up to be a central issue in the battle for the White House, as focus groups and polling has revealed the potential damages it could inflict to Trump’s candidacy among his working-class, white voter base to be more unfavorable than concerns about his inflammatory rhetoric towards immigrants, Muslims, and women.
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, has begun pouncing more regularly on these attacks, telling an audience Wednesday in New Jersey that his tax proposal is a plan “written by a billionaire for a billionaire”
“My husband and I have released 33 years of tax returns, we’ve got eight years on our website right now. So you have got to ask yourself, why does he not release them?” asked the former secretary of state.
Watch the full interview with Stephanopoulos below.