Nobody wants to say for sure, but former officials say they may be under lock and key at the Internal Revenue Service house, but even that fact is secret. The tax declarations of the President and the Vice-President were formerly kept in the Commissioner's office, but they are kept there today.
The secrecy was historically a bit superfluous. Since Watergate, presidential candidates and commander-in-chiefs have made the practice of making them available to the public.
When questions about Trump's finances grew, the IRS decided to take extra steps to make sure its documents were not leaked, a federal offense.
The then IRS Commissioner John Koskinen took action requiring Trump's lawyers to gain access to the confidential financial documents.
"We needed to make sure everything was done that we can do," said John Koskinen, an Obama-nominated candidate who was abused by the Republicans over allegations by the IRS against tea party groups. The return, he told CNN this week, was "more closely watched, as if the president had already been chosen."
Koskinen asked the Inspector General of the Agency to review the process of protecting the return of Presidents to ensure that all possible protective measures were taken. The IG had only one recommendation: buy a safe.
"Everyone – including me – called it a safe," Koskinen said. "It's just a locked cupboard in a locked room, but to be on the safe side, we might as well buy a safe."
Never published a report on the recommendation that was made public, and even now, Koskinen, who left November 2017 does not know if the agency has ever bought the safe. Even for the IRS Commissioner, it is against the law to see certain returns and he has taken precautions. "I have not seen the room or the originally locked cupboards or closet sets, nor am I sure they already have a safe," Koskinen said.
Matthew Leas, a spokesman for the IRS, declined to comment on where Trump returns, who told CNN in an e-mail, "Federal privacy and disclosure laws prohibit the IRS from referring to individuals or individuals Cases. " A spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General could not be used for comment.
The IRS has a long history of safekeeping tax returns for the President and Vice President. The Federal Tax Collector must keep them, as they have been expelled from the National Archives as historical, permanent records of the Authority, even after a President has left office. The extraordinary thing about Koskinen's demand, however, is that it was called before Trump took office because of increased interest from the press and the American public.
It is unclear how far Trump's returns have been pushed back to the IRS, but Koskinen said it was probably "several years". There is usually a three-year limitation period for the duration of an individual tax return from the Agency, unless there is evidence of fraud or criminal activity. In this case, the agency would keep these records for years.
Since the beginning of the 1970s, most presidents have decided to make their tax returns available to the public only during their term of office for the years they are in office, which is not required by law. The practice began with Jimmy Carter, who led and took over the office following the tax scandal of President Richard Nixon and Watergate.
"Over time, this tradition has not only been different for everyone who wants to be anti-Nixon, but also for anyone else who wants to be transparent," said Joe Thorndike, director of tax history project Tax History Project. "Tradition has developed its own normative power over time until you find someone who does not care about it: Donald Trump."
The House Democrats prepare to ask the IRS for Trump tax declarations under an obscure provision The heads of the House and Senate Spelling Boards have the authority to request taxpayer information from the Ministry of Finance. It states that "the Secretary will provide the Committee with all return and return information specified in such application."
The decision on how to deal with an application for Trump's return rests with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the President's closest associates and earliest supporters. A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said Mnuchin would review any application for the President's tax return along with his General Counsel to determine if they are required by law.
Trump's lawyers have already threatened with a lawsuit over the release of the return, and Democrats on Capitol Hill expect the Treasury Department to take the time to review each application.
. In January, Neal told CNN that he was "circumspect" in prosecuting Trump's tax returns. "I think the idea here is to avoid the emotions of the moment and make sure the product is under critical analysis," he said. "And it will."
Steven Rosenthal, senior officer at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; George Yin, a professor at the School of Law at the University of Virginia and former Chief of Staff of the Joint Tax Committee; and Noah Bookbinder, Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Thorndike, said Thursday at the hearing.
"If you're a Republican, you may want to support President Trump's decision not to release him. If another President is in the White House in four years, you can really have them out there," Thorndike said. "People have to be careful, they either think this information is important or not, they have to go beyond politics, because someday everyone will be on the wrong side."