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Trump's accounting firm must hand over 8 years of tax returns, court rules

Stock Markets Nov 04, 2019 08:04PM ET
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By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's longtime accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors, a U.S. appeals court ruled Monday, the latest setback for Trump in his tenacious efforts to keep his finances secret.

The ruling by a unanimous three-judge panel of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the ability of prosecutors to enforce a subpoena for the returns against accounting firm Mazars LLP. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, said the Republican president will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 5-4 conservative majority includes two justices appointed by Trump.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, is seeking the returns as part of a criminal investigation into Trump and his family real estate business. The scope of that probe is not publicly known.

The 2nd Circuit did not decide whether Trump is immune from being charged with a state crime while in office, as the president has argued. However, it found that even if he is, the immunity could not stop Vance from getting the returns from a third party, or from prosecuting him once he leaves office.

It would "exact a heavy toll on our criminal justice system to prohibit a state from even investigating potential crimes committed by him for potential later prosecution," 2nd Circuit Chief Judge Robert Katzmann wrote in the ruling.

Vance's office has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump petitions the Supreme Court. Under the agreement, Trump has 10 calendar days to file the petition.

The timing of Monday's decision means the Supreme Court could probably take up and decide the case in its current term, which ends in June. It could, however, wait until its next term to hear the case, potentially pushing its decision until after Trump goes up for reelection next year.

The Supreme Court could also decline to hear the case altogether, which would effectively uphold the 2nd Circuit's decision and clear the way for Vance to get Trump's tax returns.

A spokesman for Vance declined to comment on the ruling.

Trump, who built a real estate empire with his New York-based business before becoming president, separately faces an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.

BREAKING TRADITION

Trump has refused to make his tax returns public, breaking with a decades-old tradition of U.S. presidential candidates releasing their returns during campaigns and presidents disclosing them while in office.

In August, Vance subpoenaed Trump's personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018, and other records from Mazars USA, the president's longtime accounting firm. Trump sued Vance's office in Manhattan federal court to try to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, he cannot be subject to criminal investigation.

On Oct. 7, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero threw out Trump's lawsuit, calling his claim of immunity "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values." The ruling prompted Trump's appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

Arguing before the appeals court on Oct. 23, a lawyer for Trump made the claim of immunity more explicit, saying state authorities would be powerless to act against the president even if he shot someone on the street unless he were removed from office first.

Katzmann wrote in Monday's order that the extent of the president's immunity was irrelevant to the case.

"The subpoena at issue is directed not to the President, but to his accountants; compliance does not require the President to do anything at all," Katzmann wrote.

Katzmann was appointed to the court by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. The other two judges on the panel, Christopher Droney and Denny Chin, were both appointed by former President Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor and also a Democrat.

More broadly, Trump has also fought efforts by Democrats in Congress and others to obtain information about his finances and a range of other matters.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in May refused to release Trump's tax returns to a House committee, saying the request was not based on "a legitimate legislative purpose." The House then sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service in July to try to get access to the tax records.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Oct. 11 ruled in favor of a separate House bid to obtain Trump's financial records from Mazars, a decision that has been stayed pending appeal.

The House impeachment inquiry focuses on the president's request in a July phone call for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a domestic political rival, Joe Biden, the former vice president and a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump.

Trump's accounting firm must hand over 8 years of tax returns, court rules
 

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Comments (14)
michael hammer
michael hammer Nov 04, 2019 9:26PM ET
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Don't hate the player, hate the game. Simplify the tax code and eliminate loopholes if you're mad about how little taxes the rich.
Patrick Higdon
Patrick Higdon Nov 04, 2019 9:26PM ET
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Right! Flat Tax at the rate of zero would be nice.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 5:02PM ET
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I think Trump’s base should vote for Chuck Woolery. He’s a republican game show host too.
Hank Williams
Hank Williams Nov 04, 2019 4:43PM ET
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If you honestly believe that when a wealthy person gets a tax audit and once the audit is complete butterflies gather. You have no clue how much tax the wealthy gets out of using all kinds of tactics in their businesses. I have seen claims go from hundreds of millions to less than ten percent of the claim. The reason it got reduced is due to the amount of time it drug out in tax court. Another embarassing establishment.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:43PM ET
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trump has been completely honest about this too. the tax return that was leaked a while back he paid more tax than any of the DNC candidates, even obama.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 4:43PM ET
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eddie glass His tax returns from 1985 to 1994 show that he lost more money than nearly any other indicidual American taxpayer. This during a time where is was almost impossible to lose money investing. Know why? He’s a horrible investor. Deal with it.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:43PM ET
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Al Vlaj let's see a picture of your portfolio and assets and compare it to his, we will see who the horrible businessman and investor is
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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Trump became wealthy before running for president. He has been in constant audit for years. These buffoons think their gonna find something the IRS missed? The socialists really are a special kind of crazy with their obsession over this President. I blame hyphenated last names personally.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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Trump became wealthy when he was born into it. His investment performance is no more than a checking account. Oh, and dont be naive. Trump is a socialist and spends like one. Remember, he was a democrat that voted for Hillary in 2000.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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Al Vlaj jealous much?you been snorting too much CNN
Erski Gumby
SB20 Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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Al Vlaj You’re taking Trump too personally.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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eddie glass CNN? As a conservative republican, i would never watch that trash. But the way you all dote on this guys false claims is sad. It’s like youre in a cult. Just finish the kool-aid like a good minion and be done with it.
Hank Williams
Hank Williams Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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How much can be attributed to his wealth just from tax fraud.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:32PM ET
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probably none, people as wealthy as trump have their tax scrutinized more than other people in society. he used the same legal rules that all people of wealth use. do not see you TDS victims getting upset about your democrat candidates who paid less tax than trump and have somehow made millions of dollars on a sub million dollar per year salaries.
Jeff Ong
Jeff Ong Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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will be too funny if he is living from the TV show and all his other business have negative cash flow
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Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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eddie glass he’s a billionaire because of daddy. Not a big accomplishment. His game show host days is because of his brand name. His brand is worth billions for sure, but Jeff mentioned his cash flow, not his worth. Take a business class someday. I get though how being star struck by a game show host can be overwhelming to you though.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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Al Vlaj the words of a truly jealous TDS victim. so you are saying that he went from a millionaire to a billionaire by being bad with money? i do not know you you guys believe even a fraction of the things you spew because you are upset you lost in 2016.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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Al Vlaj would love to see how your financials compare to donald trump. care to post your assets/tax returns? let's see if you can teach us a thing or two. see how much return you made on the money your daddy left you.
Erski Gumby
SB20 Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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eddie glass You’re going to be waiting forever.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 4:03PM ET
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eddie glass boy, you really have a crush on this dude, huh?
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Nov 04, 2019 2:46PM ET
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His friend Brett K will ensure that this won't pass the Supreme Court.
Patron Silver
Patron Silver Nov 04, 2019 2:27PM ET
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gonna sell bottles of juicy repubs tears
Hank Williams
Hank Williams Nov 04, 2019 2:17PM ET
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I want to know his effective tax rate.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Nov 04, 2019 2:17PM ET
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probably 10% -- Mainly from omitting 20% of his income. He is used to getting away with fraud by simply clogging up the justice system until people stop caring and brush things into the gutters to stop the ongoing mess. --- If you look deep into his tax affairs you will see major fraud. === Trumpet is a major drag on all things public affairs. Trump is a burden to society and the world in general.
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Nov 04, 2019 2:17PM ET
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Chris Sundo He's been under constant audit for years. Apparently Chris Sundo had more abilities than the IRS without even seeing the returns. That's some super powers there buddy!
Erski Gumby
SB20 Nov 04, 2019 2:17PM ET
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Buzzy Jefferson Chris Sundo is an internet tax expert.
Hank Williams
Hank Williams Nov 04, 2019 2:16PM ET
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love a good juicy wealthy tax evasion case!
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 2:16PM ET
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Nothing to evade when you are such a bad business person, you lose all of your daddy’s money.
eddie glass
eddie glass Nov 04, 2019 2:16PM ET
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Al Vlaj he turned a million dollars into over a billion, let's see how your financials compare
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Nov 04, 2019 2:16PM ET
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eddie glass haha! Are you kidding? Wake up, bro. Is that what his book says or do you have a coveted degree from Trump University?
Erski Gumby
SB20 Nov 04, 2019 2:16PM ET
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eddie glass Lots of Trump experts on this comments section. ROFL
 
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