Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has officially declared that President Donald Trump does not have to hand over his tax returns to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Mnuchin told the committee’s chairman Richard Neal (D–Mass.) in a letter that the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” as the Supreme Court requires.
“In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, and pursuant to section 6103, the department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information,” Mnuchin wrote.[PDF]
Neal had submitted a formal request to the IRS for six years of President Trump’s tax returns on April 3. In his request, he said Congress has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials as a reason for the request.
“The Ways and Means Committee, in particular, has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary Federal tax system and determine how Americans—including those elected to our highest office—are complying with those laws,” Neal wrote in the request.
The chief options available to Democrats are to subpoena the IRS for the returns or to file a lawsuit. Last week, Neal promised “we’ll be ready” to act soon after Monday’s deadline, according to the Associated Press.
Tax Returns Confidential
However, President Trump said he is under audit and would not be inclined to release his returns until the audit is complete.
Astoundingly, the ongoing hunt for the president’s tax returns—even after investigators found no collusion between President Trump, his campaign, and organizations and businesses with Russia—is unprecedented.
More so, there is no law that requires presidential candidates to release their tax returns to the public or to Congress. It is a voluntary act. Under IRS code, section 6103, it states that tax returns are confidential. They can only be released and shared by the individual. The IRS cannot release tax information except to authorized agencies and individuals.
In other words, in this situation, it is up to President Trump to release his tax returns to Congress.
Even more noteworthy, Congress is seeking the tax returns from a president who donates his presidential salary and has vowed to do so while president.