Published: Sun, May 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

House panel subpoenas Treasury, IRS for Trump's tax returns

House panel subpoenas Treasury, IRS for Trump's tax returns

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal subpoenaed the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service on Friday to obtain President Donald Trump's last six tax returns.

Neal first made the request for six years of Trump's taxes on April 3, citing Title 26, Section 6103 of the IRS Code, which states that, upon written request from the Ways and Means chairman, the Treasury secretary "shall furnish such committee with any [tax] return or return information specified in such request".

Trump has broken with a decades-old precedent among recent USA presidents by refusing to release his tax returns while a presidential candidate in 2016 or since being elected, saying he could not do so while his taxes were being audited. However, there is little precedent for utilizing it as a means to probe a president's tax information. "To properly exercise congressional oversight authority, courts have long held that a valid legislative goal is required for all congressional investigations". Mnuchin said the committee's request "lacks a legitimate legislative goal", as Supreme Court precedent requires.

"As you have recognized, the Committee's request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers", Mnuchin wrote in a letter this week.

His decision was expected given that Treasury had missed two previous deadlines Democrats set for receiving the information.

The subpoena could bolster Neal's position in federal court because it will help him demonstrate he pursued all possible avenues to obtain the returns before filing a lawsuit against the administration, said Steve Rosenthal, a legal expert at the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think-tank.

Mnuchin had, until Monday, been stalling.

Mnuchin contended at the time that the request was politically motivated. That body, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, is controlled by Democrats.

'The committee's request raises serious issues concerning constitutional scope of Congressional investigation authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative goal, and the constitutional rights of American citizens, ' he wrote in April.

Mr. Trump has long told confidants that he was under audit and therefore could not release his taxes.

The newspaper also reported that the losses were so substantial, that in the eight of the ten years in question, Trump was able to avoid paying income tax.

'There is no law.

Trump tweeted on Saturday that he won in 2016 "partially based on no Tax Returns while I am under audit (which I still am), and the voters didn't care". I have no problem with it. There is no law whatsoever'.

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