Federal appeals court says House committee can get Trump’s tax returns

Washington— A federal appeals court in Washington ruled on Tuesday that the House Ways and Means Committee can obtain several years of tax returns from former President Donald Trump, a victory for House Democrats in their multi-year battle. years to get the records.

The unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with House Democrats, who originally wanted five years of federal tax filings from Trump and several of his business entities in 2019 while he was president.

Citing a new request for tax information in 2021 from Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Panel, after the change in presidential administration, Senior Circuit Judge David Sentelle wrote in a 33-page ruling that the request “was made in connection with a matter on which legislation could be passed,” and dismissed the former president’s claims that the Democrats’ request for his tax information was unconstitutional.

“While Congress may attempt to threaten the incumbent president with an invasive demand after he leaves office, every president takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office. duties,” Sentelle wrote. “It’s a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.”

The Ways and Means Committee celebrated the decision and said on Twitter that he expects to receive the requested declarations and verification files “immediately”.

“With great patience, we have gone through the legal process, and once again our position has been upheld by the courts,” Neal said in a statement. “I am pleased that this long-awaited notice makes it clear that the law is on our side. When we receive the feedback, we will begin our oversight of the IRS’ Mandatory Presidential Audit Program.”

Trump’s legal team, however, will likely appeal the decision to the full DC Circuit or to the Supreme Court.

The court battle stems from Neal’s initial request to the head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2019 for Trump’s tax records, in which the president said the committee was “reviewing legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to tax matters.” “Federal tax laws. Neal’s request was made under a federal law that allows Congress to request certain individuals’ tax information from the IRS.

The Treasury Department refused to comply, arguing that it was not supported by a legitimate legislative purpose. The committee sued the IRS and the Treasury Department to force them to turn over the tax information.

But President Biden assumed the presidency while the dispute was ongoing, and Neal renewed his request for five years of tax returns from Trump and his companies from 2015. In July 2021, the office of legal counsel for the Ministry of Justice said the Treasury Department must turn over the tax information, a reversal of an analysis under the Trump administration. The Treasury said it intended to comply with the latest request and turn over the materials.

Again, the former president tried to block the broadcast of his returns, arguing that the demands violated the Constitution, in part because the Treasury Department was politically motivated and the Democrats had no valid legislative purpose.

But a federal district court in Washington requests granted from the Treasury Department and the Ways and Means Committee to reject Trump’s claims, concluding that lawmakers’ 2021 request served a legislative purpose and did not violate the Constitution. The DC circuit accepted.

“The President has identified a legitimate legislative purpose for which he requires information. At this point, it is not for us to delve deeper than that,” Sentelle wrote. “The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political as well as legislative motivations is irrelevant.”

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