Here’s who’s seen Trump’s tax returns (and it’s not just his accountant)

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rallies with supporters at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rallies with supporters at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

WASHINGTON — While Donald Trump won’t publicly release his income tax returns, the New York businessman has turned them over when it suited his needs — if he stood to make a profit, needed a loan or when a judge forced him.

Pennsylvania gaming regulators were given at least five years’ worth and eight boxes full of Trump’s tax documents. Nevada, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana and other state gaming officials also had access to multiple years of his returns. Large banks that lent Trump money over the years have also obtained Trump’s returns.

One common thread ties all those who have seen the documents: They can’t talk about them.

In all cases reviewed by The Associated Press, each person, organization, company or government office that has seen Trump’s tax returns is barred from discussing their full contents by professional or legal restrictions.

For example, employees of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board could face criminal penalties if they leaked information from Trump’s tax returns maintained in the board’s electronic files. Missouri officials are similarly barred from discussing the returns by state law.

That leaves the public knowing little about Trump’s more recent finances beyond the few details that have trickled out in public documents unearthed by reporters, Trump’s own self-reported estimations of his wealth and statements like the one he made in Monday’s debate.

While Democrat Hillary Clinton questioned whether Trump’s tax returns might reveal that he has paid little or no taxes, Trump said he was “smart” for not paying federal income taxes in some years.

Trump referred to public documents unearthed by Politico showing he didn’t pay any federal income tax during at least two years in the early 1990s because he lost more money than he earned. Other documents show he also didn’t pay any federal income taxes in 1978, 1979 and 1984, but the documents provided only limited information about other aspects of Trump’s finances that could be settled by him releasing his tax returns.

IRS and tax experts have said an audit doesn’t bar Trump from making his tax returns public.

Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns citing an IRS audit, but the IRS and tax experts have said an audit doesn’t bar Trump from making the documents public. Since 1976, every major party nominee has released the returns and Clinton has publicly released nearly 40 years’ worth. Even Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, released 10 years of his tax returns.

Trump’s tax returns would reveal his charitable contributions. Despite boasting of sweeping generosity, the AP reported more than a year ago that there is little record of substantial personal philanthropy from Trump. Trump has been dogged by questions about his personal giving and how his namesake foundation operates. The Washington Post has reported that Trump used donations given by others to pay for legal settlements, political contributions and even purchase portraits of himself.

The returns would also reveal how much Trump earned from his assets, helping someone work back to an approximation of his net worth to compare to his own estimation. Though the returns wouldn’t give an exact measure.

Trump’s own estimates of his income and net worth have previously been scrutinized by those who had access to his taxes.

[Watch Video]

Donald Trump stands alone as a presidential candidate who refuses to release his tax returns. The GOP nominee says he is waiting until the Internal Revenue Service finishes its audit, a process that could last as long as seven years. Hillary Clinton and her supporters say he must be hiding something. Lisa Desjardins offers some context behind the headlines.

For a decade, Trump tangled with New York City authorities over his city tax bill, a battle first reported in June by journalist David Cay Johnston in The Daily Beast.

In Trump’s 1984 tax filings, he said he had lost money during a time in which he had just completed Trump Tower and regularly boasted about the success of his business deals. Trump also declared that he was primarily a consultant that year, and that his consulting business had $684,000 in business expenses and no income. He provided no receipts to justify the claimed expenses.

City tax authorities didn’t buy it — and after Trump appealed his tax bill, they fought with him for the next ten years. Trump lost and was ordered to pay the taxes on more than $1 million in income.

Trump’s multibillion-dollar fortune has also been questioned by banks that demanded his tax returns before lending him money. Commercial lenders generally require both personal and business tax returns as part of a loan application, and Trump provided such information to North Fork Bank in 2004 and 2005.

According to a deposition of Trump taken in a defamation lawsuit he filed against journalist Tim O’Brien, North Fork concluded that Trump’s net worth was $1.2 billion and not the $3.5 billion he had said. Deutsche Bank also reviewed Trump’s finances as of 2004, deeming him to be worth “give or take $788 million,” according to the deposition.

Trump, who disputed the findings in the deposition, lost the defamation suit.

AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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The post Here’s who’s seen Trump’s tax returns (and it’s not just his accountant) appeared first on PBS NewsHour.