Between 1974 and 2012, excluding Gerald Ford who only released 10 years of summary data, every U.S. president has released their tax returns. Although not legally required to do so, since 1977 the Internal Revenue Manual has required that every sitting president and vice president’s tax returns should be subject to an audit “in the interest of sound administration” and in light of “everything that has happened in the past.”
The ‘tradition’ of voluntarily releasing tax returns so they could be subject to public scrutiny began in 1974 due to a scandal involving everyone’s favorite crooked president, Richard Milhous Nixon. The scandal was somewhat lost in the muddy waters of the ongoing Watergate scandal but Nixon had taken huge deductions on his individual tax returns, paying just $792.81 in federal income taxes for 1970 and $878.03 for 1971 even though he had an income of more than $200,000 in both those years.
History does have a tendency to repeat itself and this appears to be the case with the latest revelations courtesy of the New York Times. As with Nixon’s tax scandal of 1973, someone at the IRS has likely leaked information from the president’s tax returns and revealed some startling information about president Trump’s financial situation, first and foremost, that he apparently only paid a meager $750 in both 2016 and 2017.