WASHINGTON - Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin has denied a Congressional request for President DonaldTrump’s tax returns.
The returns were originally requested last month by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., one of four people authorized to request usually private income tax returns under a little-known IRS code.
Update 6:03 p.m. EDT May 6: Responding by the May 6 deadline, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has rejected a House Committee’s request for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, according to The Associated Press.
BREAKING: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin denies request for Trump's tax returns, a move that is sure to set off a legal battle. https://t.co/DjtQ8PGSEy— The Associated Press (@AP) May 6, 2019
In a letter Monday, Mnuchin told Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal that the panel's request for Trump’s returns “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
Mnuchin said, after consulting with the Justice Department, he decided that the department is “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information,” the AP reported.
The rejection is expected to spark a legal battle over Trump’s returns.
Trump is the only president in modern history who has refused to make his tax returns public.
Original story: The deadline passed Tuesday afternoon for the Internal Revenue Service to hand over six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee.
The returns were originally requested earlier this month by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., one of four people authorized to request usually private income tax returns under a little-known IRS code. Neal had set a final deadline for the documents for 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin now says a final decision will be given to Congress by May 6.
Officials earlier this month asked for more time to review Neal’s request, with Treasury Department Secretary Steve Mnuchin emphasizing in a letter to the chairman that the tax code he cited to get Trump’s returns was not meant to be used “for political reasons,” including “for purposes of embarrassing or attacking political figures of another party.”
Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code says the Treasury Department secretary “shall furnish … any return or return information” requested by a handful of lawmakers, including Neal. The information could then be shared with the House Ways and Means Committee “only when sitting in closed executive session” unless Trump allows for further disclosure, according to the Internal Revenue Code.
In a letter sent April 13 to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Neal rejected the Treasury Department’s opposition to the release, pointing to the clear wording of section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code.
“It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information,” Neal wrote.
He added that “concerns about what the Committee may do wit the tax returns and return information are baseless.”
“This request falls squarely within the Committee’s oversight authority,” Neal said. “The IRS, Treasury, and Justice must assume that the Committee Members, like all government officials, will act properly in the conduct of their official duties.”
If authorities fail to turn over the documents, Democrats warned a legal battle is likely to follow.
“If the IRS does not comply with the request, it is likely that Chairman Neal will subpoena the returns,” House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., told Reuters. “If they do not comply with that (subpoena), a legal battle will begin to defend the right of oversight in Congress.”
Mnuchin previously told Congress that authorities “will comply with the law” in regard to releasing Trump’s tax returns.
In his original request for Trump’s tax returns, Neal also asked officials to specify whether any of them had been “under any type of examination or audit” and “the issue(s) under examination.”
Trump has repeatedly declined to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit.
“I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit,” Trump told reporters April 10.
President Trump on releasing his tax returns: "I would love to give them, but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit." pic.twitter.com/pheeK1epBR— CSPAN (@cspan) April 10, 2019