Can Trump release his own tax returns?

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US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. – US President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the election, The New York Times reported September 27, 2020, citing tax return data extending more than 20 years. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump has labeled a New York Times report saying he paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House as “fake news.”

The big question: Can President Trump release his tax returns to prove the story is not correct?

The simple answer is yes.

Trump has fiercely guarded his tax filings, becoming the only president in modern times not to make them public. The details of the tax filings complicate Trump’s description of himself as a shrewd and patriotic businessman, revealing instead a series of financial losses and income from abroad that could conflict with his responsibilities as president.

Trump’s financial disclosures indicated he earned at least $434.9 million in 2018, but the tax filings reported by the New York Times reported a $47.4 million loss.

Historically, Trump has said he won’t release his tax returns because he’s under audit. And while there’s no way to confirm that because the process with the IRS is confidential, there’s nothing keeping him from making the returns public, according to the BBC.

It’s also important to note Trump isn’t legally obligated to release them.

“There is no law,” Trump said back in April. “As you know, I got elected last time with this same issue. And while I’m under audit, I won’t do it.”

Trump’s tax revelations threaten to undercut a pillar of his appeal among blue-collar voters while providing a new opening for his Democratic rival just two days before the first presidential debate. Trump has worked for decades to build an image of himself as a hugely successful businessman — even choosing “mogul” as his Secret Service code name.

If Trump continues along the same path as does not release his tax returns, he’d be the first U.S. president in nearly 5 decades to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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