Supreme Court Says Trump Must Give Tax Returns to Congress
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court gave former President Donald Trump a little less to be thankful for this Thursday, clearing the path for the imminent handing over of his tax returns to a congressional committee.
As is their custom, the justices did not explain the rationale for their decision in the brief order issued Tuesday, but there were no apparent dissents.
The decision to reject Trump’s plea for a permanent order that would have blocked the Treasury Department from giving six years of his tax records to the Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee ends a three-year legal fight.
It was Trump’s second loss at the Supreme Court in as many months.
In October, the court refused to step into the legal fight surrounding the FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate that turned up classified documents.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and tax law compliance by the former president.
A federal law says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers.
But the Justice Department under the then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to provide the records, and the Trump-era Justice Department defended the decision.
Mnuchin insisted he was withholding the documents because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats for purely partisan reasons.
The filing of lawsuits commenced shortly thereafter.
When the Biden administration took office it concluded federal law is clear that the committee has the right to examine any taxpayer’s return, including the president’s.
Lower courts agreed that the committee has broad authority to obtain tax returns and rejected Trump’s claims that it was overstepping and only wanted the documents so they could be made public.
Chief Justice John Roberts imposed a temporary freeze on Nov. 1, to allow the court to weigh the legal issues raised by Trump’s lawyers and the counter arguments of the administration and the House of Representatives.
The House contended an order preventing the IRS from providing the tax returns would leave lawmakers “little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is quickly approaching its end.”
Just over three weeks later, the committee appears on the verge of finally getting the documents it wanted.