Tax returns? Are they about to surface — finally?

Donald J. Trump’s mysterious tax returns might be about to see the light of day. Finally!

More than two years ago the one-time real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. He then declined to do what other major-party candidates had done since 1976, which is release their personal income tax returns for public scrutiny.

Trump cited a “routine” tax audit. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t comment on specific audits, but it said immediately that an audit doesn’t preclude release of returns.

That didn’t persuade Trump to do the right thing. He has kept ’em out of public view.

Now comes the House of Representatives with its new Democratic majority. The House Ways and Means Committee appears primed to get those returns, hold hearings and then will seek to release them. The president is likely to fight that effort — even though he says he has nothing to hide!

Wow! What do you think about that?

Republicans suggest Democrats are applying a double standard, that they aren’t demanding it of over presidential candidates. Others, though, have released those returns. Only the president has declined to follow a 40-plus-year political custom.

Think for just a moment:

  • Does a “routine” tax audit drag on for years? No. It doesn’t.
  • Has the president ever produced a letter from the IRS notifying him of an audit? I haven’t seen it. Have you?
  • If the president says there’s nothing to hide, no wrongdoing to be discovered, why doesn’t he release them? Well, I believe he is lying.

That leaves us with his tax returns still in hiding.

The House Ways and Means Committee says it is seeking the tax returns simply for “oversight” purposes, that it isn’t motivated by any “gotcha” effort. Whatever the motives, it is important — for the sake of the transparency that Trump advocates — for the public to see precisely how the nation’s top elected official has earned his fortune.

The president calls it “harassment.” He blames Democrats for conducting a witch hunt. He insists he has done nothing wrong, just as he said that there’s no evidence of “collusion” with Russian election thieves. His behavior and bullying of special counsel Robert Mueller III suggest something quite different.

I remain one of those nosy-Nora Americans who has every right to insist on seeing how the president of the United States has earned his fortune, whether he has followed the letter of the law.

Let us remember this critical point: The president works for us. We are the bosses. Not him.

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