House Democrat, treasury chief bicker over Trump tax returns

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received a thunderous ovation from the crowd at Lordstown High School on Sunday. 
 KABIR BHATIA  WKSU

Democratic lawmakers on Saturday gave the Internal Revenue Service a final deadline of April 23 to hand over President Donald Trump's tax returns, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration was diligently considering.

Earlier this month, Neal formally requested the last six years' worth of President Trump's tax returns, citing what's been dubbed a "little-known provision" in tax code to do so.

The Massachusetts Democrat says a 1920-era law saying the IRS "shall furnish" any tax return requested by Congress "is unambiguous and raises no complicated legal issues" and that the Treasury's objections lack merit.

Mnuchin, who has consulted with the White House and Department of Justice about Trump's tax returns, said earlier this week that Neal's request raised concerns about the scope of the committee's authority, privacy protections for US taxpayers and the legislative goal of lawmakers in seeking the documents. The law states that three people: the House Ways and Means chairman, the head of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Chairman of Senate Finance can ask for anyone's personal tax information for their committee's use.

In that letter, Mnuchin also questioned the scope of Congress's investigative authority and Neal's stated reason for the request - that he wants them to insure that the IRS is properly auditing presidents.

"Concerns about what the Committee may do with the tax returns and return information are baseless".

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The House Democrats' asked that the returns be turned over to the members of Congress. "People expect the rule of law to work smoothly, but that" s not always the case". With an eye to a legal challenge, Neal told Rettig that he has two weeks to respond - by 5 p.m. on April 23. He claimed - and has continued to claim - that he could not make his tax returns public because they were under audit by the IRS. 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. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request", Neal writes.

Trump appears prepared to fight this to the Supreme Court.

Trump's personal attorney, William Consovoy, has called the request a "gross abuse of power".

Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump's returns.

Trump argues that he can not release his tax returns because they are being audited, but the IRS has said this is no impediment to their release.

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