Democrats set new deadline on Trump tax returns

Blanche Robertson
April 14, 2019

If the U.S. Treasury Department denies requests from Congress for the president's federal tax returns, they would at least have a chance of getting his state returns.

Federal law gives the chairmen of House Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation the power to request the returns of any taxpayer, although some legal scholars believe the request needs a legitimate legislative goal, which Democrats say they have met.

"It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the committee", Neal writes in his letter.

Neal sent a letter earlier this month to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking that the returns be turned over by April 10. Mnuchin is the Cabinet secretary that oversees the IRS. Mnuchin expressed a concern over releasing the returns because of the precedent it would set and the potential for this to be used for political attacks. "I would just emphasize this is a decision that has enormous precedence in terms of potentially weaponizing the IRS". "We have people working on it diligently". Dubbed the "blue wall" before they unexpectedly tipped to Trump, they may have supplanted Florida and OH as the nation's premier presidential battlegrounds. By withholding his tax returns, Trump has not followed the standard followed by presidents since Richard Nixon started the practice in 1969. And after the November midterm elections, Trump claimed at a news conference that the filings were too complex for people to understand. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said in a statement that alluded to the 1924 statute that mandates the IRS provide any taxpayer's returns when asked by a handful of top lawmakers.

The issue appears sure to end up in federal court.

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"I expect a reply from the IRS by 5:00 p.m. on April 23, 2019. If you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request". Neal also could seek the returns through a subpoena.

According to The Hill, Mnuchin plans to consult with the Justice Department to determine how the IRS is to handle the matter. But he also acknowledged his "statutory responsibilities" and that he respects congressional oversight.

Neal wrote in the letter Saturday that Congress has "broad" power to investigate, and the IRS code 6103 is "unambiguous" and does not need to be reviewed by the Treasury or Justice Department.

House Democrats are fighting hard to get their hands on President Trump's tax returns, but if they can't do it on their own they might have some help.

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