Accounting Today Quotes Beth Kaufman and Anne O'Brien on IRS Chief Rettig's Potential Response to Trump Tax Investigation
Charles Rettig was barely 24 hours into his new job as President Donald Trump’s hand-picked chief tax official when a bombshell news report hit, alleging shady tax dealings by Trump and his family roughly 20 years ago. . . . One problem for investigators would be getting access to records that are about two decades old.
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“The IRS has a real problem with record keeping, so good luck with that,” said attorney Beth Shapiro Kaufman of Caplin & Drysdale in Washington. If records aren’t available in agency files, IRS examiners would “have to do some sleuthing,” said Anne O’Brien, also a partner at the firm. Regardless, Kaufman said, it’s probably a longshot for Rettig’s agency to get involved.
“He started the job on Monday, and he’s going to decide on Wednesday that he’s going to audit the president?” she said. “That seems unlikely.”
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Tax lawyers generally agreed on Wednesday that the situation presents a lot of intriguing possibilities. For example, even though the statute of limitations has passed in most instances, it’s possible that Fred Trump didn’t file gift tax returns for some years, said Caplin & Drysdale’s Kaufman. If so, the IRS wouldn’t need to cite fraud in order to open an audit — despite the long delay — she said.
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Audit in 2000
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If the agency were to now reach a civil finding of fraud, that would be “kind of embarrassing for the IRS,” given that it had already examined the estates years ago, Kaufman said.
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Excerpt taken from the article “Trump Family Tax Report Tests New IRS Chief on 2nd Day in Office” by Laura Davison, Lynnley Browning and David Voreacos for Bloomberg News.