Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

House panel chairman gives IRS April 23 deadline on Trump taxes

House panel chairman gives IRS April 23 deadline on Trump taxes

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal set the IRS a new deadline of April 23 to hand over President Donald Trump's tax returns before potentially resorting to other legal options.

Earlier this month, Neal wrote the IRS asking for six years of the president's personal and business tax returns, which Trump has refused to release breaking decades of precedent for candidates for the White House.

Neal, D-Mass., argues that 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 Department's objections lack merit.

"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 or return information", Neal wrote.

Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal sent the IRS a request for Trump tax information on April 3, citing a portion of the IRS Code giving certain committees authority to access "any return or return information".

"They want to investigate how the IRS audits presidents, but some of the info they requested has nothing to do with that". If the U.S. Treasury Department denies requests from Congress for the president's federal tax returns, they would at least have a chance of getting his state returns. Neal's request for the returns of a sitting president is unprecedented, and legal experts say its success or failure may depend on a court ruling about the committee's legislative objective for seeking the documents. "That really doesn't pass the laugh test in the current political climate when we know the president may have something to hide from the American people". 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. "If you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request".

The issue appears sure to end up in federal court. Neal also could seek the returns through a subpoena.

During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to release his returns but said because he was under a routine audit, "I can't".

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

A lawyer for Trump said in a letter last week that the efforts are an attempt to harass a political opponent and that it would set a "dangerous precedent" for the agency to turn them over.

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