Donald Trump is sticking to his new explanation for why he can't yet release copies of his recent tax returns: The IRS is auditing him, as Trump says it has for the past 12 years. "No lawyer would ever allow you to release a tax return while you're being audited," the front-runner to be the Republican presidential nominee said in an interview Saturday on the Fox News Channel. "As soon as the audits are finished, I have no problem. There is no bombshell whatsoever." Tax experts say that explanation has them scratching their heads—emboldening Trump critics who argue that the celebrity businessman-turned-candidate's personal finances remain unexamined. The odds of being randomly audited every year for a decade is vanishingly small—and Trump's statement that "four or five" years of his tax returns are actively being audited raised even more questions.
"I've been audited for many years. It's very unfair. The IRS always audits, eventually I settle it out," he says in the broadcast interview Saturday. "I have friends that are very rich, they don't even know what I'm talking about. They've never been audited." The IRS's normal statute of limitations for an audit is three years—though that time frame is extended in instances of substantial underreporting and there is no time limit on reviews in the event of fraud. The Trump campaign did not respond to questions from the AP about why the IRS would be auditing his tax returns past the normal three-year period. At the campaign event Friday where he won the endorsement of former rival Chris Christie, Trump ignored questions from a reporter on why he would keep private earlier returns not at risk of audit. (Read more Donald Trump 2016 stories.)