As you rush to get your returns together for 2017’s tax season, don’t forget: The President of the United States is in no rush to release his.
Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has amassed into one of the longest-running scandals of his political career — sparking Tax March protests in about 150 cities over the weekend and triggering Trump to fire off another bunch of baffled tweets about the uproar.
Trump, just like all of his citizens, will be filing his taxes this month, and yet there is still no indication the public will ever see them. He is the first major presidential candidate in more than 40 years to withhold them — and the first to make it to the White House without that disclosure.
But this didn’t used to be so taxing. Trump spent six years saying he’d have no problem releasing his returns, and even scolded a fellow Republican candidate for waiting too long to do so.
So let’s celebrate this year’s tax season with a look back at broken promises:
During his “birther” campaign of falsely claiming President Obama was not born in the United States, Trump offered a public deal: If Obama released his birth certificate, he’d release his tax returns.
“Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
“I may tie my tax returns, I’d love to give my tax returns, I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate.”
He also hinted he might release them “if I decide to run” for office.
With Mitt Romney running on the Republican presidential ticket, Trump again and again offered a bit of advice from one businessman to another: The candidate must release his tax returns, ASAP.
Trump started saying this in January, telling Fox News that releasing the returns is a “great thing” because it lets a person prove “you’ve been successful, and that you’ve made a lot of money.”
“I actually think it’s a positive,” he said.
In the final weeks of the campaign, Trump even fell back on his birther deal, telling CNN he urged Romney to release his returns if Obama showed his birth certificate. Trump said it could be “a swap.”
The Obama birth certificate had by now emerged, proving that Trump’s claim had zero merit.
So Trump devised a new deal: He’ll release the tax returns if he runs for office.
“If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely. And I would love to do that,” he said in an interview with Ireland’s TV3.
Months before announcing his presidential candidacy, Trump assured that he’d release the returns as part of his proof that he “would make money for our country.”
“I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary,” he said in a February radio interview with Hugh Hewitt.
As the year neared its ends, and Trump surged in the GOP primary polls, he said he was “thinking about” letting the returns out.
But by this time, he had come up with yet another “swap”: He’ll put out the returns if Hillary Clinton released her deleted Secretary of State emails.
“ I’m thinking about maybe when we find out the true story on Hillary’s email,” he told ABC News in October.
“At some point I’ll release it.”
In January, Trump said he and his campaign were “working on” getting the returns out, but it was hard because it “is not, like a normal tax return.”
Starting the next month, though, Trump introduced the excuse he’d stay with for the rest of the campaign: He couldn’t get them out because he was under a “routine audit” from the IRS.
In various February interviews and appearances, he called the audit “very complicated” but said the returns would emerge once it was over.
But he shooed away even basic questions about his tax rate, telling George Stephanopoulos in an interview that it was “none of your business.”
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Trump scolded Romney for waiting until weeks before the 2012 election to release his returns, with Trump implying this played a part in the candidate’s defeat.
Trump stuck to the audit line right through the election, even saying in one of the presidential debates against Clinton that the returns would come “as soon as the audit’s finished.”
But by Election Day, the only thing that emerged were pages from his 1995 returns that were leaked to the New York Times. They revealed that, at the time, Trump’s businesses had lost nearly a billion dollars, enough to allow him to skirt income tax for up to 18 years.
A reporter asked Trump about the returns in his first press conference as President-elect. Almost reflexively, he replied, “Well, I’m not releasing the tax returns because as you know, they’re under audit.”
When pressed, though, Trump said for the first time that he simply didn’t believe the American public cared about seeing them, because he won the election.
The issue did not seriously resurface again until another leak of his returns, this time from 2005. The White House confirmed the authenticity of the pages even as Trump dismissed it as “fake news.”
With April bringing the first tax season under President Trump, protesters nationwide stormed the streets in occasionally violent protests demand to see his returns.
He tweeted that they were paid protests, and fell back on what appears to be his final answer on the matter: He won the election.
“I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?” he wrote Easter morning.