Emma Braden

Volume 75, Issue 2, 471-504

A functioning government requires tax revenue, and democratic legitimacy requires a nation’s

leaders be subject to the same laws as its citizens. The president’s tax behavior is an opportunity

to address both needs. With a projected increase in the tax gap, there is a need for a politically

viable, cost-effective way to increase revenues. In December 2022, the House Ways and Means

Committee released a report revealing that the IRS failed to perform mandatory annual audits of

former President Donald Trump’s taxes. The revelation imperils public trust in tax

administration, requiring a new approach to guarantee accountability for a president’s tax

behavior. Thus far, discussion of Trump’s taxes has focused on voluntary disclosure and possible

repercussions for Trump himself. This Note is novel in its focus on the presidential audit and its

proposed implications for tax morale. First, it establishes the symbolic significance of presidents’

tax behavior and the power of tax morale to increase tax compliance. Then, the Note proposes a

codified mandatory presidential audit that maximizes the impact of the audit on taxpayers’