Democrats set new deadline on Trump tax returns

Grant Boone
April 14, 2019

A top House Democrat on Saturday ratcheted up his demand for access to President Donald Trump's tax returns, telling the IRS that the law clearly gives Congress a right to them.

On Saturday the Washington Post reported that the House ways and means chairman, Richard Neal of MA, wrote to the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, Charles Rettig, saying Neal wrote that a failure to comply with the new deadline would be "interpreted as a denial of my request".

After a week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin - rather than Rettig - told Neal that the returns weren't yet available, as "t$3 he committee's request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of Congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative goal, and the constitutional rights of American citizens".

Neal sent a letter earlier this month to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking that the returns be turned over by April 10. If Rettig fails to do so, Neal said he will interpret as denying the request, which could pave the way for a court battle.

"It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information". Then, he failed to meet Neal's one-week deadline on Wednesday, saying he would instead consult with the Department of Justice before any further response to make sure handing over the returns wouldn't violate legal and constitutional rights. He said that he was under audit and didn't intend to turn anything over until that process had been completed. "Those concerns lack merit".

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Trump appears prepared to fight this to the Supreme Court.

Neal said in his letter that the request is needed to further "legislative proposals and oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President".

"They want to investigate how the IRS audits presidents, but some of the info they requested has nothing to do with that". The bill would also require other presidential candidates to show their last five years of tax returns in order to run.

Republicans have dismissed Neal's request as unprecedented and political.

"For good reason, it would be a gross abuse of power for the majority to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents".

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