Trump says 'people don't care' about his tax returns, but polls show otherwise

  • President Donald Trump says he will not release his tax returns and claims "people don't care" about seeing the documents.
  • Still, polls show most voters want Trump to publicly release the information or support Democratic efforts to obtain the returns.
  • House Democrats have requested six years of the president's tax returns.
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he leaves the White House April 05, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he leaves the White House April 05, 2019 in Washington, DC.

President Donald Trump thinks Americans don't care about seeing his tax returns.

But most voters want the president to release his tax information — or support Democratic efforts to get the documents if Trump refuses to share them, according to polls.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday before traveling to Texas, Trump claimed he would "love" to release his tax returns but will not do so "while [he is] under audit." The president is locked in a legal battle with House Democrats, who asked for six years of tax returns last week as they seek information about Trump's financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest. The president refused to release his tax returns during his 2016 campaign, breaking with decades of precedent.

"Remember, I got elected last time," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. "The same exact issue, with the same intensity, which wasn't very much. Because frankly, the people don't care."

Voters care more than Trump would like to admit.

A majority, or 51%, of registered voters support Democrats' efforts to obtain the president's tax returns, versus 36% who oppose the push, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday. Among independent voters, 46% back the Democratic lawmakers' effort, while 34% do not. The Morning Consult/Politico poll of 1,992 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

When asked about Trump voluntarily releasing his tax returns, rather than being compelled to do so, voters even more clearly want the president to share the documents. Overall, 64% of voters think the president should publicly release his tax returns, while 29% believe he should not, according to a Quinnipiac University poll in March. The Quinnipiac poll of 1,120 voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Trump may have one aspect of his argument right. While Americans largely want to see the president's tax returns, it is unclear how much that desire will influence whether they vote for him in his 2020 reelection bid.

Trump and his lawyers have called House Democrats' efforts to obtain the president's tax returns politically motivated. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., has said "this request is about policy, not politics."

The president has repeatedly claimed he cannot share his tax returns because the Internal Revenue Service is auditing him. However, IRS officials have said nothing would prevent people from releasing returns, even if they are under audit.

Democrats have used Trump's refusal to release his tax returns as evidence of conflicts of interest or a lack of transparency. They aim to turn the issue against him: already, 2020 Democratic candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have shared their tax information.

Pressure has mounted on other contenders such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to release their returns. Sanders said he plans to release them by Tax Day.

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