Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to overhaul the tax code, but this may be difficult to do as the hurdle of his own tax returns is rearing its head again. Sean Spicer emphasised again on Monday that Trump had no intention of releasing them. 

This has lead to Democrats uniting on a pledge to not cooperate with any tax reform unless they know specifically how that revision would affect the billionaire president and his family.

“If he doesn’t release his returns, it is going to make it much more difficult to get tax reform done,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader.

“When they talk about tax reform, are they talking about cutting Donald Trump’s taxes by millions of dollars a year?” asked Ezra Levin, a member of the Tax March executive committee. “We don’t know.”

Trump keeps moving the goalposts. He used to claim that he would release his taxes when his “audit” ended, which was absurd because no audit precludes releasing taxes, nor does it preclude releasing other years’ forms. In any case, he will not be under audit in perpetuity.

Then, Kellyanne Conway said, abruptly, that Trump would not release his taxes because the election was over. Regardless, Trump is still accountable as an official, not just as a candidate. President Trump’s 2017 tax returns showing his 2016 income are not under audit; these could be released immediately.

What’s at stake?

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the House Republican’s proposals would be to abolish a rule that lets companies write off the interest they pay on loans. This is something that Trump as a real estate developer would vehemently oppose, erasing the appeal of debt and raising $1 trillion in revenue.

More than a dozen Republicans — from recognizable names like Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa and Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina to backbenchers like Representatives David Young of Iowa, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Ted Yoho of Florida, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and Justin Amash of Michigan — have agreed that Mr. Trump should release his returns.

Of course, Trump hit back on Twitter at protestors clamouring for his tax returns:

The history of tax reform

The story of the last major tax reform effort started with President Reagan announcing to the country his intent to reform the tax code during the state of the union. He instructed his treasurer to study the issue. After months of internal deliberation, they submitted recommendations to congress. Then the House and Senate held dozens of public hearings and committee meeting where expert opinion was sought and eventually, almost 2 years later, comprehensive tax reform was passed into law.

Yet despite that Herculean effort, it failed. It failed cause the federal government couldn’t pay it’s bills without accruing record deficits. Both President Bush and President Clinton had to raise taxes in order to finance the government and lower the deficit. And as we all know, the Clinton tax increase in particular lead to growth, prosperity, and budget surpluses.

Now we have the current president saying he wants tax reform. So when is the treasury going to submit a comprehensive plan? When will the US have public hearings; and more to the point, why waste the time?

We already know tax reform that lowers taxes is going to fail. It won’t fund the government. We need more revenue, not less. And we know it’s not “pro-growth” either.

My dog ate my taxes

Trump, who craves adulation, knows that revealing his tax returns would result in attacks from the left and, at the very least, disappointment from the right. The leaked 2005 return was nothing more than a red herring. And the “I can’t release my taxes because they’re under audit” is as plausible an excuse as my dog ate them. Bottom line: Trump’s tax returns will reveal a man who has unpatriotically gamed the system and provided woefully little to worthy charitable causes.

There is no legal or legitimate basis for Trump to conceal his tax returns. Even more shocking is the still minimal concern by Republicans and worse, by most Trump supporters who can dismiss such an egregious cover up of the facts. You do not need to operate in the dark to make America great again unless you are hiding facts and truths that would undermine the President’s legitimacy and America’s democracy.

Whether Trump releases his taxes or not, it would be naive to think that his business interests won’t reap financial benefits from the policies that do get put in place; they likely already are. This is simply a game to him, one in which he has an unfair advantage and plans to make good use of it, one in which he could care less about the finances of most of us. There should be a greater push for him to completely divest of his companies; none of his children should be running them either.