Seriously, why? And why a dozen years' worth of them? I've never quite understood that reticence.
There are, of course, the theories; they might show that he is not, in fact, a billionaire but "merely" a millionaire, and that would supposedly undercut his "brand" as a "winner". I've never bought that one because his net worth has never struck me as any more than a minor reason at best for the fanatical devotion of his followers, and as I've long maintained, since most of us have never had or seen millions, billions, or trillions of anything, such numbers are abtractions anyway. Voters wouldn't sweat such details; they just know that Trump is unimaginably richer than they'll ever be. Like it or hate it, the exact margin isn't going to matter.
Releasing his returns could expose what a crook and corrupt crony capitalist Trump is, but supposedly the first half dozen of the returns in question have not, ostensibly, landed him anywhere near the greybar hotel, something I would have thought the Obama IRS would have had great incentive to do in light of Hillary Clinton's Emailgate travails. Maybe they're saving that for later this year as oppo research overkill, But either way, Trump being a crook isn't exactly not common knowledge - priced into his "stock," as it were - and it hasn't made a damn bit of difference to the Trumplican hordes, other than perhaps to enhance their devotion on the grounds that "the IRS has come after him with all guns blazing as he's 'beaten' them".
And yet he still won't release his returns. Why?
As with so many other reasons, Trump's answer seems to indicate that he really doesn't know himself:
Donald Trump's campaign released a letter from his tax attorneys Wednesday night saying Trump's tax returns have been "under continuous examination by the IRS since 2002," citing that as a reason for not releasing his returns to the public.
The letter, posted by Politico, from his attorneys, Sheri A. Dillon and William F. Nelson, said his returns from 2009 "and forward" are still being processed, and that is standard practice for "large and complex businesses." ...
"Examinations of your tax returns for 2002 through 2008 have been closed administratively by agreement with the IRS without assessment or payment, on a net basis, of any deficiency," said the letter.
That isn't an answer. It's a statement of apparent fact unrelated to the question. Simply because he has, or had, twelve years' worth of returns under audit doesn't mean he can't release the first half of them, at least. Even the IRS itself has said that. So there are no legal or administrative constraints preventing it. So what gives?
Whatever it is, whether or not it's the "bombshell" that Mitt Romney mentioned a month ago, there's something fishy in those returns, because this letter's content is "internally inconsistent":
Dennis Brager, a tax lawyer in Los Angeles and former senior IRS trial attorney, told Bloomberg after reading the letter that its references to examinations for 2002 through 2008 that were closed and to later examinations that concerned matters in 2008 and earlier “contradict each other.”
Brager said it’s possible the issue under scrutiny involves a so-called timing loss, meaning that Trump might have declared a tax-deductible loss in one year that the IRS disallowed, then claimed it again in another year.
“The letter appears to be internally inconsistent,” Brager said.
So Trump double-dipped on an disallowed ordinary loss, as opposed to a capital loss, which has an annual ceiling but can be carried forward? That would be a....complication. Tax avoidance is legal, after all, while tax evasion is not. Until that "complication" is resolved, which he probably doesn't know yet, and given who and what Trump is, of course he would want to keep it all under wraps and kick the can as far down the campaign road as he can. Especially after Mitt Romney drew attention to it, not knowing the specifics of the issue in The Donald's case but knowing enough about such tax matters as a rich and successful businessman to recognize the general stench.
That would provide at least part of the "why". But would that matter for the GOP nomination race, which is the only one Trump really cares about? It's difficult to see it costing him any support he already has, given Trumplicans' tribalistic mentality:
The battery charge filed against Donald Trump's campaign manager is "outrageous" — "and I think it's politically motivated," former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said Wednesday.
"The tape, in my opinion, vindicates the campaign manager," Corey Lewandowski, he told radio talk-show host John Gambling. "It's wrong. I think it shouldn't stand.
"The mainstream media has to knock it off because they're inciting these things," Kerik added. "They're pushing it like he did something outrageously wrong — and I think that's wrong in itself."
1) Since when is Breitbart part of the "mainstream" media?
2) They tried to cover it up, going so far as to smear their reporter who both photographic and video evidence unequivocally shows was physically attacked by Corey Lewandowski, elsewise the battery charges would not have been filed .
3) What is it about Donald Trump that possesses erstwhile "conservatives" to turn into the same psychologically-projecting liberal animals who see what they want to see, call it "fact", and use it as a political truncheon against his opponents? Why can't Kerik just admit the truth and urge Captain Comb-Over to do what he should have done three weeks ago and apologize to Michelle Fields and cut Lewandowski loose? Cut his losses, in other words, rather than double down, grow the PR headache, and dig himself deeper out of nothing more than puerile "alpha male" ego and pride?
Maybe the answer is somewhere in all those unreleased returns.
No wonder he doesn't want to release them. That might bring patent attorneys into the fray.