IRS faces a second deadline to release Trump tax returns to Democrats

The Trump administration faces another deadline Tuesday to hand over six years of President Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns.House Way...

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 8:47 AM

The Trump administration faces another deadline Tuesday to hand over six years of President Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal gave the IRS until 5 p.m. to respond to the request, appealing directly to the tax agency after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin -- who oversees the IRS -- stepped in to decline a similar request earlier this month citing ongoing consultation with the Justice Department.

The Massachusetts Democrat has indicated that defying his request -- as the IRS is expected to do -- would be interpreted as noncompliance and lead to an escalation in the standoff between the administration and House Democrats over the President's financial records.

Democrats argue that it is up to Rettig, a Trump appointee, and not Mnuchin to release the returns.

"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 to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request."

But Rettig said in a recent hearing that Mnuchin is his boss, and Mnuchin has made clear that he has no plans to hand over documents any time soon.

Mnuchin told reporters earlier this month that it would be "premature" to conclude how long the agency's review with the Justice Department could take given the complexity of the legal issues. He also called Tuesday's deadline "arbitrary."

"I'm not going to make a commitment prematurely as to whether we will be able to conclude our legal review within that deadline or not," said Mnuchin when asked by CNN. "Obviously, given the importance of this issue we have people working on this diligently. But again I would emphasize this is a decision that has enormous precedence in potentially weaponizing the IRS."

The President's personal lawyer, William Consovoy, has sent two letters to the Treasury Department urging them not to relent, arguing that Neal reached beyond his congressional authority under the law.

Consovoy also filed suit Monday on behalf of Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization, to block a separate request from the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, for a decades' worth of financial records from Trump's accounting firm Mazars.

Trump has broken decades of presidential precedent with his refusal to release his tax returns, first as a candidate and since taking office. He has also maintained his stake in his family real estate business, now overseen day-to-day by his adult sons Don Jr. and Eric Trump, opening himself to challenges that he is violating the constitutional ban on presidents taking gifts or money from foreign governments or US state entities.

Democrats cite an obscure statute

Since taking control of the House in January, Neal has spearheaded Democratic efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns using an obscure statute created in the wake of the Teapot Dome bribery scandal under President Warren G. Harding.

Democrats are steadfast in their belief that Neal has the power under IRS code 6103 to request any individual's tax information, including Trump's. The law states that three people -- the House Ways and Means Chairman, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman and the chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation -- have the power to request the tax information in order to conduct their own legislative business and that the Treasury Secretary "shall furnish" the information.

The statute has been used by Congress before and was used in a high-profile case when Congress investigated whether the IRS was discriminating against conservative groups applying for non-profit status. Request for information using 6103 are also made on a regular basis for research purposes by JCT.

Neal argues that he needs Trump's taxes in order to conduct oversight of the IRS's presidential audit program, both to understand how the IRS is using the program and see if the program needs to be codified into law.

Trump's lawyer has argued that Neal is only using the presidential audit program as a pretense to embarrass the President and release Trump's private information to the public.

"Congress has no constitutional authority to act like a junior-varsity IRS, rerunning individual examinations or flyspecking the agency's calculations," Consovoy wrote to Treasury last week.

A lengthy legal battle is expected

The administration's denial of the request is expected to spark a lengthy legal battle over the 6103 statute, which has never been scrutinized in the courts before. The fight will also be a rare example of Congress suing the executive branch for information, and could go on for months or even years.

The most recent example was in the "Fast and Furious" scandal, named for an Obama-era gun-walking program overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that left a Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry dead.

In 2012, the House voted to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress and the House Oversight Committee sued the Obama administration for information related to the program, but it wasn't until 2014 that the court ruled the administration had to hand over additional documents. Even so, the squabbling over documents continues today.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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