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Trump Refuses To Share Tax Returns. However, Has No Problem Causing A Recession (#GotBitcoin?)

Trump Refuses To Share Tax Returns. However, Has No Problem Causing A Recession (#GotBitcoin?)

President has broken with decades of precedent by refusing to disclose returns before or after entering White House. Trump Refuses To Share Tax Returns. However, Has No Problem Causing A Recession (#GotBitcoin?)

President Trump said he wouldn’t release his tax returns, as the Internal Revenue Service faces a Wednesday deadline from House Democrats to turn over six years of his returns.

The tax code requires the Treasury Department to hand over those documents, but the White House has said it will resist that request.

Speaking to reporters as he left Washington for Texas Wednesday, Mr. Trump said of his tax returns: “I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit.”

“Remember, I got elected last time, the same exact issue with the same intensity,” he added. “Frankly, the people don’t care.”

Mr. Trump has broken with four decades of precedent by refusing to disclose his tax returns as a presidential candidate in 2016 or after entering the White House, despite saying during the campaign that he would eventually release them.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that his department intended to follow the law after reviewing House Democrats’ request for Mr. Trump’s tax returns, though he reiterated that did not necessarily mean he would turn over the documents.

Last week, the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), formally requested that the IRS turn over Mr. Trump’s returns by Wednesday, starting what is expected to be a bruising legal fight between Congress and the Trump administration.

Mr. Neal is invoking a 1924 law that requires the Treasury Department to give him any taxpayer’s returns that he requests.

Last week, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said that the request for his returns flouts constitutional constraints and should be rejected by the IRS.

Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner, told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that the IRS and its lawyers were working on its response to Mr. Neal’s letter.

“We anticipate responding,” Mr. Rettig said.

Mr. Rettig said he wasn’t instructed by anyone from the Trump administration not to comply with Mr. Neal’s request.

“The law says the tax returns shall be provided,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), said at the hearing with Mr. Rettig. “The law does not give anyone, not the Treasury secretary, not a White House official, the power to interfere.”

The returns wouldn’t provide a full picture of Mr. Trump’s finances, but they would show his charitable contributions and tax strategies he has used. And other documents Mr. Neal has requested would shed light on the audits Mr. Trump has been complaining about, because they would reveal what the IRS and the president’s lawyers have been disputing.

Mr. Trump does not directly control whether the Treasury Department agrees to turn over his tax returns. But Mr. Mnuchin is one of the president’s closest allies, serving as his finance chairman during the 2016 campaign, and the president’s words could influence his response.

Mr. Trump’s claims about audits are irrelevant to the legal questions at hand. Although releasing his tax returns during an audit could complicate the audit, the federal law requiring the Treasury to give the returns to Congress applies regardless of whether there is an audit or not.

If the administration doesn’t hand over the tax returns, Mr. Neal could issue a subpoena or file a lawsuit. In those cases, the questions would be about the extent of congressional inquiries and whether the request serves a legitimate legislative purpose. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, William Consovoy, raised some of those issues in a letter to Treasury officials last week.

Under an IRS procedure, all presidents’ returns are subject to mandatory audits and previous presidents have released their returns anyway. Mr. Neal wrote in his request that he wants the tax returns so the Ways and Means Committee can examine whether the IRS is doing those audits properly.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mnuchin didn’t say specifically whether the Treasury would respond to Mr. Neal’s request by the Wednesday deadline, but said, “In general we try to accommodate these requests.”

Mr. Mnuchin declined to say whether he would delegate the decision whether to furnish Mr. Trump’s tax returns to the IRS’s Mr. Rettig, as is customary on tax matters, or whether he would make the final decision himself.

In his own Capitol Hill testimony Tuesday, Mr. Rettig said he had discussed with Mr. Mnuchin “who’s going to handle the response” to the Democrats’ request. “There’s no conclusion on that,” he said.

Mr. Mnuchin also pushed back against suggestions that Mr. Trump hadn’t been transparent, saying the president has complied with financial-disclosure laws and wasn’t required to voluntarily release his returns.

Mr. Mnuchin said he hasn’t personally had any conversations with anyone at the White House, including Mr. Trump, about the request, though he acknowledged the White House general counsel had spoken with Treasury lawyers before Treasury’s receiving the formal request.

Asked whether White House lawyers talked about their legal views on the request, Mr. Mnuchin described the conversation as “informational” and said he wasn’t involved in the conversations personally.

Trump’s Lawyer Urges IRS To Reject Democrats’ Demand For President’s Tax Returns

Attorney says turning over returns to Ways and Means chairman under longtime law ‘would set a dangerous precedent’.

A lawyer for President Trump said that House Democrats’ request for the president’s tax returns flouts constitutional constraints and should be rejected by the Internal Revenue Service.

In a letter to the Treasury Department’s top lawyer, attorney William Consovoy began laying out a legal case that the Trump administration could use to refuse the congressional request. Mr. Consovoy argued there are limits to a 1924 law that requires the IRS to turn over any tax returns sought by Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), chairman of the House’s tax-writing committee.

“If the IRS acquiesces to Chairman Neal’s request, it would set a dangerous precedent,” Mr. Consovoy wrote to Treasury Department General Counsel Brent McIntosh. “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, the ensuing tit-for-tat will do lasting damage to our nation.”

Mr. Trump broke a four-decade tradition among presidents and major-party candidates in 2016 when he refused to disclose his tax returns. He sometimes has said he would release his returns once audits are complete, and he sometimes has said that no one cares about his taxes.

Mr. Neal on Wednesday used his power to turn the yearslong rhetorical fight over Mr. Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns into a procedural and legal case. Mr. Neal is seeking six years of the president’s personal returns and six years from some of Mr. Trump’s business entities.

The lawmaker also asked the IRS for details about any audits of Mr. Trump, along with all administrative files relating to the returns.

The Treasury Department and IRS haven’t commented on Mr. Neal’s request and haven’t indicated whether they will comply. Mr. Neal asked for a response by April 10.

Under the tax code, the administration “shall furnish” any returns and records requested by the House Ways and Means Committee chairman. Mr. Consovoy cites precedent to argue that the request is constrained by a requirement that it serves a legitimate legislative purpose.

Mr. Neal said he based his request on the committee’s oversight function, arguing that he has the responsibility to oversee whether the IRS is correctly auditing the president’s returns as the committee considers potential legislation.

Mr. Consovoy, by contrast, suggests that the request is merely retaliation against Mr. Trump’s political beliefs, writing that it is no coincidence that Mr. Neal sent his request after getting pressure from other Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer also attempts to rebut Mr. Neal’s contention that the legislative purpose is to investigate how the IRS audits presidents. Mr. Consovoy notes that Mr. Neal asked for tax returns from before Mr. Trump took office and doesn’t ask for information about how previous presidents were audited. Other presidents released their tax returns but not any of the audit information that Mr. Neal is seeking.

The returns from before Mr. Trump took office, however, could still be under audit, meaning that the questions about pre-2016 returns may address concerns about how IRS employees are scrutinizing the president they now work for.

Daniel Rubin, a spokesman for Mr. Neal, declined to comment late Friday afternoon. Another Ways and Means Committee member responded on Twitter. “Every U.S. President released their tax returns before taking office for decades until Trump. He doesn’t care about precedent,” wrote Rep. Don Beyer (D., Va.). “The President’s contempt for transparency is not a legal basis to flout Congress’ explicit statutory authority. The law is clear.”

Top executive branch officials haven’t responded, either. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig are scheduled to testify in the House on Tuesday.

Mr. Consovoy also asked the Treasury Department to get a formal legal opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel before turning over any information to Mr. Neal. “Caution and deliberation are essential to ensure that the Treasury Department does not erode the constitutional separation of powers,” he wrote.

If the executive branch refuses to turn over the records, Mr. Neal could issue a subpoena or begin a lawsuit against the executive branch. That would put the issue in front of federal judges, who haven’t ruled on these precise issues but could have to determine the bounds of Congress’ investigative powers.

“The statute is much more powerful than the general investigative authority of the House,” said Charles Tiefer, a former deputy general counsel for the House who is now a law professor at the University of Baltimore.

“In the past, the definition of legislative purpose was broad. But in terms of a Republican-picked judiciary, there is a new sheriff in town and they may feel like a good outcome for the case is to narrow what Congress” can do, he said.

Mr. Neal’s request on Wednesday escalated a dispute between Democrats and Mr. Trump that had been brewing since the 2016 campaign, when Democrats criticized the then-GOP nominee for failing to disclose his returns. Those returns would show his income and his charitable donations and could give the public more details about his financial ties than is available in public records.

In a 2016 debate, Mr. Trump said he would release returns “as soon as the audit is finished.” Since then, he has cited various reasons for not releasing his returns, including continuing audits of his tax returns.

“Until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do that,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

Mr. Trump’s tax lawyers said in 2016 that the IRS had closed audits from 2002 through 2008 but were still auditing tax years 2009 and beyond. Those lawyers, Sheri Dillon and William Nelson of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, haven’t provided any updates about those audits since then.

No law or rule prevents Mr. Trump from releasing his tax returns while he is under audit. Doing so, however, would effectively crowdsource the audit and affect the discussions between the president’s lawyers and the IRS.

Mulvaney Says House Democrats Will ‘Never’ Get Trump’s Tax Returns

Acting White House chief of staff says IRS wouldn’t release documents despite a 1924 law.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said Congress will “never” obtain President Trump’s tax returns, escalating the verbal sparring over an issue Democrats have said is a priority since they took over the House this year.

Mr. Mulvaney cast House Democrats’ request to the Internal Revenue Service for Mr. Trump’s returns as a “political stunt” and said it would be rejected. Mr. Trump, breaking with four decades of tradition from presidents and major-party presidential candidates, hasn’t released any tax returns voluntarily, despite saying repeatedly during the presidential campaign that he would do so.

“That is an issue that was already litigated during the election,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns and they knew he didn’t. And they elected him anyway, which of course what drives the Democrats crazy.”

Mr. Mulvaney insisted the IRS wouldn’t release Mr. Trump’s returns despite a law that gives Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the authority to obtain any taxpayer’s returns. “The Democrats are demanding the IRS turn over the documents,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “That is not going to happen and they know it.”

Speaking Sunday to NBC News, Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) said Mr. Trump should release his tax returns but predicted Mr. Neal’s effort would fail. “Going after his tax returns through a legislative action is moronic,” Mr. Romney said on “Meet the Press.” “That’s not going to happen. The courts are not going to say that you can compel a person running for office to release their tax returns. So he’s going to win this victory.”

The tax law that Mr. Neal invoked is clear, and it creates a specific exception to the general rule of taxpayer privacy. If the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee sends a written request for any person’s tax returns, the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” that information to the chairman. Mr. Neal and his staff could then review and analyze the returns, and the committee could later vote to release the returns or a report based on them.

Mr. Neal also requested IRS documents related to any audits of Mr. Trump, which would provide far more information than is publicly known about disputes between the tax agency and the president.

Mr. Neal has said he based his request on the committee’s oversight function, arguing that he has the responsibility to oversee whether the IRS is correctly auditing the president’s returns as the committee considers potential legislation.

Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, said on ABC News that Mr. Neal’s inquiry lacks a “legitimate legislative purpose” to pry the president’s tax returns from the IRS.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D., Mich.) said on ABC that Democrats have a good reason: “we are looking very carefully right now as to whether or not the IRS is properly auditing and enforcing tax law on the president of the United States, and we’re considering legislative changes toward that end,” he said.

The law that Mr. Neal cites, however, provides no penalties for noncompliance and no deadline for the IRS to comply. Mr. Neal is likely to send another letter to the IRS before escalating the matter with a subpoena or lawsuit.

Democrats have wanted Mr. Trump to release his returns since he declined to do so during the 2016 election. Mr. Neal sought tax documents regarding eight Trump business entities, including five that his committee says represent the core of the president’s business.

Those documents wouldn’t provide a full picture of Mr. Trump’s finances, but they could reveal information about his sources of income, tax-planning strategies and compliance with the law.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has said that House Democrats’ request for the president’s returns flouts constitutional constraints and should be rejected by the IRS.

In a letter last week to the Treasury Department’s top lawyer, attorney William Consovoy laid a legal case that the Trump administration could use to refuse the congressional request. Mr. Consovoy argued there are limits to a 1924 law that requires the IRS to turn over any tax returns sought by the Ways and Means chairman.

Mr. Consovoy also asked the Treasury Department to get a formal legal opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel before turning over any information to Mr. Neal. “Caution and deliberation are essential to ensure that the Treasury Department does not erode the constitutional separation of powers,” he wrote.

Updated: 4-13-2019

Congressman Sets April 23 Deadline For Trump Tax Returns

Rep. Richard Neal called the law ‘unambiguous’ that the returns must be handed over, after the administration missed an April 10 deadline

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal set a final April 23 deadline for the IRS to turn over President Trump’s tax returns.

After that, House Democrats and the Trump administration could be headed for a clash in federal court over documents that the president has sought to keep private.

The administration had missed an April 10 deadline as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote that he was consulting with the Justice Department about the law and exploring whether Mr. Neal had a legitimate legislative purpose for the request. Under the tax code, Mr. Neal (D., Mass.) can request any taxpayer’s returns and the Treasury Department “shall furnish” them.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Saturday, Mr. Neal said the law clearly entitles him to receive the six years of business and personal returns of Mr. Trump that he requested.

“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,” Mr. Neal wrote.

Mr. Neal set a deadline of 5 p.m. on April 23 and said he would interpret a failure to hand over the records by then as a denial of his request. After that, he could issue a subpoena or he could go straight to a federal court to seek to enforce the law. The legal question would reach beyond the language of the statute and consider the extent of constitutional constraints on legislative inquiries.

Matthew Leas, an IRS spokesman, declined to comment on Mr. Neal’s letter. Spokespeople for the Treasury Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Mr. Trump broke with four decades of precedent of presidents and major-party candidates by refusing to release his tax returns. He has said he would release his returns after an audit is complete.

Under an IRS procedure, presidents are subject to mandatory audits. Mr. Neal has taken the president’s argument against a voluntary release and turned it into his rationale for a mandatory handover of the returns, arguing that the committee needs to determine if the IRS is doing those audits properly. Mr. Neal has also requested administrative files relating to any audits of the president or some of his business entities.

It would take a subsequent committee vote to publicly release all or part of the returns.

The administration hasn’t formally denied Mr. Neal’s request, though Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said that Democrats would “never” get the returns. And Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, William Consovoy, urged the IRS to resist the request.

“Mick Mulvaney has nothing to do with our decision one way or another,” a senior Treasury official said.

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