Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, just formally requested President Trump’s tax returns.
CNN reported Wednesday that Neal has filed a request for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to turn over 6 years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns (from eight different business entities) through the use of an obscure loophole. The move is likely to trigger a lengthy battle in the courts in order to make the president’s tax returns public.
In his letter to the IRS, Neal wrote that his committee needed the president’s tax returns as part of his constitutional obligations to provide government oversight. Neal argued that Trump’s tax returns would be necessary in order to roll out legislation codifying IRS policies of auditing the tax returns of every sitting U.S. president.
“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal wrote in his letter. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump refused to release his tax returns to the public, defying a decades-long tradition of transparency for presidential nominees. Since at least May of 2016, Trump said he would release his taxes after an audit was completed, even though the IRS said he was free to release his tax documents despite the audit.
Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, Rep. Neal, as chairman of the House’s tax writing committee, is within his right to request Trump’s taxes. However, according to the AP, the expected legal challenge from the Trump administration could take years to resolve. Neal, for his part, told CNN his interest in seeing the president’s taxes was purely based on policy, not politics.
“My actions reflect an abiding reverence for our democracy and our institutions, and are in no way based on emotion of the moment or partisanship,” Neal said. “I trust that in this spirit, the IRS will comply with federal law and furnish me with the requested documents in a timely manner.”
Neal has given the IRS a deadline of April 10 to release Trump’s tax returns.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.