Mnuchin: Committee’s Request for Trump's Tax Returns 'Lacks a Legitimate Legislative Purpose'

May 7, 2019
In The News

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has rejected a congressional request for six years of President Donald Trump’s confidential tax returns.

In a May 6 letter to Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin wrote: “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 said the Treasury Department consulted with the Justice Department, and based on that advice, “I have determined that the Committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” Therefore, the IRS is “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

Mnuchin said the Justice Department intends to publish its legal opinion “as soon as practicable.”

While the IRS will not release Trump’s personal and business tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin renewed an earlier offer to provide information on how the IRS conducts mandatory examinations of all presidents’ tax returns.

In response to Mnuchin, Neal issued the following brief statement: “Today, Secretary Mnuchin notified me that the IRS will not provide the documents I requested under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”

As expected, Republicans support Mnuchin and Democrats do not.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted, "Big difference (between) legitimate congressional oversight & using the IRS as a political weapon." He said House Democrats, who have been demanding Trump's tax returns since he was elected in 2016, want them only to damage Trump politically.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted: "Let’s not hide behind legalese. The legitimate purpose of getting Trump’s tax returns is to assess the potential conflicts of interest, not just to assess IRS audits! Let’s lead with what will convince the Court & public opinion."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told CNN, the law clearly says, "that the tax returns of the president shall be provided to the House Ways and Means chairman, if he so requests...so there's really no way around this."

Lieu said Congress will litigate Mnuchin's refusal to release Trump's tax returns to the committee, "and we will win that court case."

The case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.