The House Ways and Means Committee asked the IRS Wednesday for six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns, a request Trump signaled he will fight.
“Congress, as a coequal branch of government, has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement. “The Ways and Means Committee in particular has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary federal tax system and determine how Americans — including those elected to our highest office — are complying with those laws.”
Neal made the request in a two-page letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in which he sought broad details about Trump’s personal tax returns from 2013-2018 — including whether the returns are or have been under audit. That was the explanation Trump used during the campaign for refusing to release his tax returns, as has been the practice of past presidential candidates.
Neal also sought the returns from eight business entities associated with Trump, and details on those.
The businesses listed include Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and DJT Holdings LLC.
Neal asked the IRS to send him the information requested by April 10.
The one-week deadline fast-tracks a showdown that is certain to end up in the court.
Privately, Trump has told White House and Treasury advisers that he does not plan to hand over his tax returns to Congress — and that he would fight it to the Supreme Court, hoping to stall it after the 2020 election, according to two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversations.
Treasury officials are not going to comply with the request until they are compelled to do so.
In 2012, with Mitt Romney running on the Republican presidential ticket, Trump offered a bit of advice from one businessman to another: “The candidate must release his tax returns, ASAP.”
More than a year before he announced his presidential campaign in 2014, Trump told an Irish television station that he would “absolutely” release his tax returns if he entered the race.
“If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely,” he said. “And I would love to do that.”
Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt in 2015 that he would “certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.”
As Trump neared seizing the GOP nomination in 2016, however, he changed his mind, claiming all of a sudden he was under audit.
Congressional Democrats have launched a number of investigations into Trump’s financial dealings and allegations of abuse of power and public corruption.
They believe that the information contained in his tax returns could be critical to answering many of their questions, including whether he lied to insurers and banks to inflate his wealth.
Neal has been under pressure from some fellow Democrats all year to move quickly on the tax returns request, with some voicing concerns that it was taking him too long to move forward with a request that could spark a lengthy court battle.
“I take the authority to make this request very seriously, and I approach it with the utmost care and respect. This request is about policy, not politics; my preparations were made on my own track and timeline, entirely independent of other activities in Congress and the administration,” Neal said in his statement. “My actions reflect an abiding reverence for our democracy and our institutions, and are in no way based on emotion of the moment or partisanship.”