WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says the Treasury Department must provide the House Ways and Means Committee former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, apparently ending a long legal showdown over the records.
During the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t turn over the tax returns because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats who control the House of Representatives for partisan reasons.
The committee sued for the records under a federal law that says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers. The committee said it needed Trump’s taxes for an investigation into whether he complied with tax law.
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In a memo dated Friday, Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel said the committee chairman “has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information” and that under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee.”
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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. already has obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Trump tried to prevent his accountants from handing over the documents, taking the issue to the Supreme Court. The justices rejected Trump’s argument that he had broad immunity as president.
A House committee sued the Trump administration in federal court Tuesday for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, setting up a legal showdown over the records.
The House Ways and Means Committee said it needs the documents for an investigation into tax law compliance by the president, among other things. It asked the court to order the administration to turn over the documents.
The lawsuit is the culmination of a long-running fight between Democrats and Trump over the returns, dating back to the 2016 campaign, when Trump claimed that he could not release them due to an IRS audit. The records hold the promise of information that Trump has carefully guarded from public view, including about his business entanglements, relationships with foreign creditors and governments, and the value of his assets.
The committee originally demanded six years of Trump’s tax records in early April under a law that says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the committee in May that he wouldn’t be turning over the returns to the Democratic-controlled House.
Mnuchin concluded that the Treasury Department is “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.” The Justice Department in a legal opinion backed Mnuchin’s position, saying the request lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and was an “unprecedented” use of congressional authority.
The argument is the same one Trump has used in refusing other demands from Congress for financial records from accountants and banks Trump and his family have done business with. Lawsuits over those records were filed in federal courts in Washington and New York, and Trump has lost in those lawsuits’ opening rounds.
In its lawsuit Tuesday, the committee said the administration has refused to turn over the documents “in order to shield President Trump’s tax return information from Congressional scrutiny.” The committee said it’s not required to explain to the Treasury Department its reasons for seeking the tax return information but that in this case the committee’s need is “evident.”
“Without reviewing the requested return materials, the Committee cannot ensure that the IRS’s audit process is functioning fairly and effectively, understand how provisions of the tax code are impacted by President Trump’s returns or exercise its legislative judgment to determine whether changes to the code may be warranted,” the lawsuit said.
The president has “declined to follow the practice of every elected President since Richard Nixon of voluntarily disclosing their tax returns,” the lawsuit said.
It’s unclear how long it will take to resolve the lawsuit. Fights between Congress and the executive branch can in some cases take years, and the administration may be eager to make the lawsuit last in order to delay providing records. But if, as the committee suggests, the fight comes down to the text of what the law requires, a resolution could come more quickly, though it could be appealed.
Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said the committee is on strong legal footing with the lawsuit because “it is entitled to oversee and investigate the executive branch, which is a key element of our checks and balances.”
The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, said in a statement that despite the Treasury Department’s “mandatory obligation,” it had “failed to comply with the law.”
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has opposed House Democrats’ requests for Trump’s tax returns, saying partisan motives are behind it and that the request could set a dangerous precedent. Grassley is the only other member of Congress besides Neal authorized by law to request any tax returns from the Treasury secretary.
“It should be alarming to every American that there are attempts by elected officials to weaponize the IRS for partisan political purposes,” Grassley said earlier this year.
Associated Press writers Marcy Gordon and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.
“During the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t turn over the tax returns because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats who control the House of Representatives for partisan reasons.” And that hasn’t changed.
The Dems have done nothing but launch one investigation after another putting on the appearance of trying to maintain integrity. Very few of these people have ever done anything outside of their stint in Congress—have never worked in any other capacity—have no understanding of business and how it works; yet, they pursue this never-ending witch hunt to obtain Trump’s tax records hoping to find something they can make a spectacle of, whether they understand anything about it or not.
A bunch of time-wasting boondogglers.
Nancy Pelosi admitted an unfortunate truth about her fabricated impeachment “farce”
– It hinges on witness’s “allegations” not “proof”.
It’s Not A Question” Of “Proof”, It’s About “Allegations”
This corrupt, dishonorable, dishonest, destructive, demonic, unethical, immoral Democrat Party is our country’s most deadliest ENEMY.
The Dishonorable, Socialist Democrat Party game plan is to lie, cheat and steal elections in order to take total control of the American people, increase Taxes on everything and bring American commerce and economy to its knees.
Then access power and retain it by any means available –
no matter the costs to the people, the government or the nation.
PROOF That the dems will WEAPONIZE ANY AND EVERY government org they can, against their enemies… WE THE PEOPLE!
Once again, the immediate gratification Democrats pursue and set precedent for their own future undoing when the political power swings back like a boomerang and lops off their own heads. I just can’t wait to see the tax returns of Joe and Hunter Biden, not to mention the Obama’s and Clintons, for a political lesson in how to go into government broke, and come out richer than King Midas. The problem with the Bidens is that everything they touch domestically turns to poop, but turns to gold for THEM if it comes back to them from overseas. If the Biden financials turn south, they just get Hunter to sell the Chinese or Russians one of his paintings. At least in Trump’s case things got built at home with American jobs and dollars, while under the Democrats all the infrastructure of palaces, bridges, Air Fields and skyscrapers got built in the middle east, China, and anywhere government taxpayer funding could be sold to the highest bidder.
You’re makng a GRAVE assumption that the pendulum WILL SWING BACK our way….
The Trump hating Democrats are so obsessed with Trump, they have “Trump Mental Illness Syndrome”, along with all of the other mental illnesses that the Democrats suffer from.
Now they offer you two choices, Is it better to suffer from Trump Derangement syndrome or act like you Have Biden Derangement Syndrome? In Trump derangement syndrome you love your hate of Trump more than you love your Country, where with Biden Derangement syndrome you love yourself and personal wealth more than your own country that leads to social insanity.
Trump exposed them for what they are, and the gift just keeps on giving.
Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their unjustified hatred of Donald Trump, to the point they will abandon all logic and reason.
Symptoms for this condition can be very diverse, ranging from racist or hate filled outbursts to the point at which they have complete disconnection from reality and will attempt to destroy anyone or anything who likes or supported President Trump.”
Mueller looked at them as the first thing a special prosecutor would do. Cy Vance has looked at them and found nothing as well. Now for the real BS artists? It’s for partisan purposes and everyone knows it. Sounds like they want to leak something.
AND where the hell is the so-called DURRHAM REPORT?!
Sorry DOJ but under federal law unless Trump signs an authorization, any agent who gives these tax returns to Congress is looking at a 25,000 fine and 10 years in prison. Dont care what you say you cant violate federal law.
SINCE WHEN?? They have been violating law all the time, and RARELY IF EVER get called to account on it.
It took me hours to complete my last puny little 1040 so I can imagine it takes a huge full time army of accountants to complete one of President Trump’s returns, being as how diverse his financial empire must be, unimaginable to most people. Congress does not think the IRS has audited those kinds of tax returns before? What will the Congressional Inquisitors do – hire one of their wive’s nephew’s tax accounting firm to try to find some dirt they can crow about?
The 2020 tax return for my vast financial empire generated a letter from IRS stating I was a dollar short…a dollar…but I did not have to pay it because it was such a small amount…thank God no penalties!
The law that permits a small number of Congressional members to view the information does not allow them to share the details. Leaking the information would be a federal crime.
BUT WHY would they care? THEY CONTROL THE FBI, they control the doj.. SO THEY KNOW they are not going to be prosecuted, or ever punished for breaking the law..
How much do you want to bet that they’re going to leak parts of it and not be prosecuted for it?
Republicans should remind the Democrats that should they lose the Congress in ’22 and the WH in ’24, they WILL be prosecuted for leaking it.
YOU CAN BET every dollar you own, THAT THEY WILL LEAK it, and not just select parts, and NO ONE WILL be found guilty of breaking the law.. HELL THOSE WHO LEAK it will get celebrated.
Then so should Biden and all the Democrats! I’m far more interested in their tax returns than I am Trump’s… I think we’d find a lot worse corruption there!
As any democrats taken a tax write for money given to Organizations, like BLM or antifa ???
That is why i say, MANDATE IT that ALL POLITICIANS< from the local mayor, all the way up to president, has to release THEIR TAX RETURNS every year they are in office..
OR MAKE IT THAT NO ONE has to…
The IRS had trumps tax returns, so if he had committed tax fraud, wouldn’t they know ??? The IRS doesn’t play games,!!! You may not like his tax write off but if they are legal.
But what I want to know is Maxine waters ,does she live in her District??? How can she afford a Mansion?? So then what are her tax write off ??? Has any democrats written off tax money given to Organizations , like BLM or antifa ?? I call them Terrorist organization. Shouldn’t that be illegal ???
at the same time they should order the returns for Pelosi, Maxine Walters and Dianne Feinstein’s be made public.
America does not need to see the tax return of a billionaire who became a public servant. America needs to see the tax returns of public servants who became millionaires while being public servants.
If an ex-President has to give his tax returns to Congress, then the current President in office should have to do the same. In fact, all of those in Congress should have to give them up for the American people to see. They do work for us don’t they?
I’ve often said just that. ALL who run should be required to show the public their tax returns, OR DON’T run!