IRS Memo Says President's Tax Returns Must Be Given to Congress




 

(Bloomberg) -- A legal memo prepared by the IRS says tax returns must be turned over to Congress if requested, exposing disagreement within the Treasury Department, which has refused to comply with a subpoena for President Donald Trump's returns, The Washington Post reported.

The memo said that the only way out of complying with the request from House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal is for the president to take the rare step of executive privilege.

The Post said in a report published Tuesday that it could not determine who wrote the memo or who reviewed it. The agency told the Post that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and current chief counsel Michael Desmond were unfamiliar with it until the Post asked them about it. The Internal Revenue Service also said the memo was never forwarded to Treasury.

A Treasury spokesman said that no one in the agency's leadership had seen the IRS' memo and reiterated that the decision to withhold Trump's financial records was based on advice from the Justice Department.

The White House declined to comment. The Ways and Means Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the memo does say that the disclosure of tax returns to the committee "is mandatory, requiring the secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing chairs," which would mean the leaders of Ways and Means, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The memo was prepared last fall, the Post reported, when Democrats were readying their request for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. The request is based on a 1924 law that says the Treasury Department "shall" turn over any individual's tax returns to Congress if requested by those congressional chairmen.

Some legal scholars have said that the request needs a legislative purpose, although the law does not state that outright. Neal told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that he needed the returns so his committee could oversee the routine annual audits conducted of every president and vice president.

After Mnuchin declined Neal's request several times, Neal issued a subpoena, which Mnuchin last week refused. Neal and other House leaders are considering their next steps.

But U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, in a related ruling involving the Trump administration's efforts to block a different committee from seeing the records of the president's accounting firm, Mazars LLC, said it was not the place of either the judicial branch or the executive branch to question Congress's stated legislative purpose.

The 10-page memo says the law "does not allow the secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met."

"The secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax-writing committee . . . to state a reason for the request," it says, according to the Post. The "only basis the agency's refusal to comply with a committee's subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege."

Trump broke with more than 40 years of presidential campaign precedent when he refused to release his tax returns in 2016. He has also refused since then, claiming they were under audit, although no law prevents Congress reviewing them while the IRS audits them.

House Democrats want to see Trump's returns to confirm the amount and source of his wealth, to see if he has any foreign entanglements that could affect his presidency, and whether he ever cheated on his taxes.

(Updates with Treasury Department comment in fourth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Alyza Sebenius and Saleha Mohsin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wendy Benjaminson in Washington at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, John Harney

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Chinese firms that fail U.S. accounting standards to be delisted as of 2022 - Mnuchin
Chinese firms that fail U.S. accounting standards to be delisted as of 2022 - Mnuchin

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said companies from China and other countries that do not comply with accounting standards will be delisted from U.S. stock exchanges as of the end of 2021. Mnuchin and other officials recommended the move to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week to ensure that Chinese firms are held to the same standards as U.S. companies, prompting China to call for frank dialogue. Mnuchin told a White House briefing the SEC was expected to adopt the recommendations.

Would a New Iran Deal Be Tougher Than the One Trump Left?
Would a New Iran Deal Be Tougher Than the One Trump Left?
  • World
  • 2020-08-11 02:53:54Z

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Speaking at a fundraiser in California over the weekend, President Donald Trump predicted that he would have a new nuclear deal within four weeks if re-elected in November. In one sense, this is typical bluster from a president who has recently mused that his face should be carved on Mount Rushmore. At the same time, it highlights both a risk about a second Trump term and a truth about the Iranian regime his administration has pressured since taking office.First, consider the risk. Trump has always explained his maximum pressure campaign as an effort to coerce Tehran to submit to better terms. By itself, there is nothing wrong with that. The 2015 nuclear deal forged...

The top 3 unanswered questions about Trump
The top 3 unanswered questions about Trump's executive orders on coronavirus relief

Will Trump's orders face legal challenges? How soon will the new unemployment benefit be available? Will all Americans be protected from evictions?

No federal relief leaves states, cities facing big deficits
No federal relief leaves states, cities facing big deficits
  • World
  • 2020-08-10 20:10:35Z

State and local government officials across the U.S. have been on edge for months about how to keep basic services running while covering rising costs related to the coronavirus outbreak as tax revenue plummeted. The negotiation meltdown raises the prospect of more layoffs and furloughs of government workers and cuts to health care, social services, infrastructure and other core programs. On Monday, governors, lawmakers, mayors, teachers and others said they were going to keep pushing members of Congress to revive the talks and agree to another rescue package.

Brent Scowcroft Never Hated His Enemies
Brent Scowcroft Never Hated His Enemies
  • World
  • 2020-08-10 17:18:15Z

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As I was preparing to assume duties as supreme allied commander at NATO a decade ago, the two people I sought out for counsel were both generals: Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft.The advice from Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was essentially personal, and it boiled down to: "Don't start to think you are Charlemagne over there, Stavridis." Meaning, don't let your ego get out in front of you, and listen to your mentors and the chain of command.Scowcroft, who had served as national security adviser for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, spent a couple of hours with me and laid out a detailed geopolitical...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy