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Accounting News Roundup: Tax Reform Progress: ‘They’re nowhere. They’re just nowhere.’ | 08.28.17

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How’s tax reform coming along?

The lede from this Bloomberg article tells you all you need to know:

President Donald Trump is planning to kick off one of the most important sales pitches of his presidency this week — getting Americans fired up about rewriting the U.S. tax code.

But there’s no plan to sell.

And this quote is *kisses fingers*:

They’re nowhere. They’re just nowhere,” said Henrietta Treyz, a tax analyst with Veda Partners and former Senate tax staffer. “I see them putting these ideas out as though they’re making progress, but they are the same regurgitated ideas we’ve been talking about for 20 years that have never gotten past the white-paper stage.”

Remember when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, “We hope this won’t take til the end of the year.”? Everyone knew that was a joke then, and everyone knows any timetable offered is a joke now. By the way, that timetable, according to National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn is “three to four weeks” just for the Ways and Means Committee to “write the legislation.” If that bill gets written and the Trump Administration turns it into law within three months, I’ll retire from writing commentary on the Internet for a week.

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! Although there are far more troubling aspects to the Trump Presidency, the still-unreleased tax returns remain a point of interest. This Bloomberg BNA post summarizes the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s failure to get the IRS to release them, even by filing two Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests. The second of these being especially creative:

This time EPIC argued that it was entitled to the information in order to correct several “misstatements of fact” it asserts the President made to the public. The alleged misstatements: Trump’s tweets insisting that he has “ZERO investments in Russia,” and stating “Russia never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” EPIC believes these statements to be untrue, and pointed to I.R.C. §6103(k)(3) which allows disclosure of taxpayer return information to correct public misstatements of facts as long as Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation gives permission. Of course, the Joint Committee has given no such permission — making it fairly clear why the IRS didn’t consider the appeal and closed EPIC’s second FOIA request. The IRS also warned EPIC that it wouldn’t process any additional requests regarding the matter.

Without Trump’s consent, it’s doubtful that the tax returns will see the light of day, at least through the courts. In other words, the IRS seems determined to respect and uphold the law. Which is encouraging since other parts of the executive branch are a little suspect in that regard.

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