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Treasury Dept. Must Turn Trump’s Tax Returns Over to Congress

July 30, 2021 by Dan McCue
Former President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a news conference at the White House on Sept. 4, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department must provide the House Ways and Means Committee with former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Justice Department said in a legal opinion released Friday.

In the opinion, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said the committee chairman “has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information” and that under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”

The 39-page memo is signed by Dawn Johnsen, installed by the Biden administration as the acting head of the legal counsel office.

During the Trump administration, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t turn over the tax returns because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats who control the House of Representatives for purely partisan reasons.

The committee then sued for the records under a federal law that says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers. 

The committee argued it needed Trump’s taxes for an investigation into whether he complied with tax law.

“As I have maintained for years, the committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., in a statement posted to the committee’s website.

“I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward,” he added.

The Justice Department opinion, however, does not mean that Trump’s tax information will automatically become public.

Longstanding rules governing the sharing of sensitive tax information with the Ways and Means Committee require the panel to hold formal votes on each and every piece of information it receives with the House at-large or the general public.

The opinion is the second time the federal government has decided against Trump when it comes to his desire to keep his tax returns to himself, his accountants and the IRS.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s tax returns must be shared with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which had sought them as part of a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.

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