The New York Times no doubt considers it quite a coup to have obtained and published President Trump’s tax return information from 1985 to 1994. But doing so violated Trump’s right under federal law to the confidentiality of his tax returns.
The Times – which reported that Trump’s businesses lost $1.17 billion during the 10-year period – has no more right to Trump’s tax returns than it has to mine or those of any of you reading these words.
Confidentiality, as the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in 1991 in U.S. v. Richey, is essential to “maintaining a workable tax system.”
Taxpayer privacy is “fundamental to a tax system that relies on self-reporting” since it protects “sensitive or otherwise personal information,” said then-Judge (now Supreme Court Justice) Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1986 in another case when she served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.