Court Rules House Committee Needs Trump’s Tax Returns

A federal appeals court declared on Tuesday the IRS must hand over ex-President Trump’s tax returns to a House committee.

This is resolving a lengthy legal fight to prohibit tax authorities from cooperating with a call for records from Democratic senators.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed unanimously with the Biden presidency and the House Ways and Means Committee.

The panel rejected Trump’s assertions against the committee’s command, his privacy risks, and his claim that compliance would be inconsistent with the Constitution.

Verdict and Reaction

“The 2021 request wants details that may inform the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means as to the effectiveness of the Presidential Audit Program,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in the panel’s view.

“Consequently, the request was submitted in furtherance of a legislative subject.” 

He went on to say the request didn’t break any separation of powers rules because the cost to the Executive Branch and the Trump affiliates was very low.

Sentelle was selected by former President Reagan. Karen Henderson and Robert Wilkins were nominated to the panel by previous presidents, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively.

On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee’s head, Rep. Richard Neal, hailed the decision.

Neal noted in a statement they observed the judicial procedure with great patience and the courts have once again reaffirmed their position.

He is glad this long-awaited opinion clearly establishes the law is on their side. When they get the returns, they will begin overseeing the mandated presidential audit program of the IRS. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also characterized the measure as a triumph.

She claimed in a release that access to the previous president’s tax records was necessary for the protection of the public interest, national security, and democracy.

They anticipate the IRS cooperating with this order and producing the necessary papers so the Ways and Means Committee can begin its oversight duties of the required presidential audit program.

The Norm

In 2019, Neal initially sought the tax returns from the Treasury Department. Later that year, the House committee filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump administration for refusing to cooperate with the request.

The Justice Department revised its legality in the matter. Tax officials were instructed to adhere to the request after Biden took office in 2020, causing Trump to submit a motion in his individual capacity to prevent the data from being handed over.

In accordance with federal tax law, Treasury officials must provide individual tax returns upon written request from the chair of the Ways and Means Committee. 

Trump’s attorneys argued the law was unconstitutional and granting the request would raise First Amendment and separation of powers concerns. 

The ruling states, “While it is conceivable Congress may attempt to strong-arm the sitting president with an invasive demand after leaving office, every president assumes office with the understanding they will be subject to the same rules as all other Americans upon leaving office.”

This article appeared in The Political Globe and has been published here with permission.