House Democrats Sue Treasury Department Over Trump Tax Returns

July 2, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON –  House Democrats sued the Trump administration in federal court Tuesday for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, setting up a legal showdown over the records.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the House Ways and Means Committee said it needs to review the documents to investigate tax law compliance by the president and other issues.

The 49-page filing on Tuesday brings the dispute between the White House and House Democrats over the president’s taxes to a whole new level.

Although the president previously sued to prevent lawmakers on Capitol Hill from delving into his personal finances, this is the first time the committee, chaired by Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass., has gone to court to press for the records.

In April, Neal sent a request to the IRS for six years of Trump’s tax records under a law that says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rebuffed the committee weeks later, saying he believed its request lacked a legitimate legislative purpose.

The Justice Department in a legal opinion backed Mnuchin’s position, saying the request lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and was an “unprecedented” use of congressional authority.

Neal then issued subpoenas to Treasury and the IRS for Trump’s tax returns, which Mnuchin also rejected.

In its lawsuit, the committee says the administration has refused “for what the committee believes is the first time ever” to turn over the documents “in order to shield President Trump’s tax return information from Congressional scrutiny.”

“Without reviewing the requested return materials, the Committee cannot ensure that the IRS’s audit process is functioning fairly and effectively, understand how provisions of the tax code are impacted by President Trump’s returns or exercise its legislative judgment to determine whether changes to the code may be warranted,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint goes on to say that “[i]n refusing to comply with the statute, Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the nation’s voluntary tax system.”

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