The White House may be setting up a potentially landmark legal battle with Congress in the coming days. White House officials are moving to block efforts by Democrats in Congress to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns. The issue is becoming so thorny that the president himself has weighed in, arguing that Democrats can speak to his lawyers and the Justice Department’s attorney general.
Democrats have been trying to compel the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hand over Trump’s taxes. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has formally requested that the IRS release the last six years of tax returns.
Neal cited a 1924 law in his request, which states that the treasury secretary must “furnish any return” if requested by the head of a House or Senate tax-writing committee. The law itself doesn’t seem to give the treasury secretary any legal mechanism to refuse the request. Of course, President Trump could and possibly will claim executive privilege. This could set up a court battle.
Those running for the highest office have traditionally released their tax returns. However, President Trump broke with tradition and has opted to keep his finances secured. Why? Speculation is rampant, to say the least. Critics have charged that Trump may not be worth as much as he claims. Others allege that his tax information could show ties to Russia and other unscrupulous parties.
As for President Trump, he claims to be under audit. The president and his team have claimed that they will not release his tax returns so long as he is under an audit. The IRS, however, has said that the president is free to release his returns if he wants to.