House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) On Saturday wrote to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig with a new deadline to provide President Donald Trump's tax returns to the committee.
Democrats argue that IRS code 6103 allows Neal to ask for anyone's personal tax information for committee use, and that such requests are made routinely and handled through the IRS instead of the treasury secretary.
"I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request and the authority of the Committee". The law that Neal is relying on says the IRS "shall furnish" any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees. If the U.S. Treasury Department denies requests from Congress for the president's federal tax returns, they would at least have a chance of getting his state returns.
On Monday, lawmakers in NY proposed a bill that would allow the commissioner of the state's Department of Taxation and Finance to turn over state tax returns if requested by certain congressional committees.
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The president has told those close to him that the attempt to get his returns were an invasion of his privacy and a further example of the Democratic-led "witch hunt" - which he has called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation - meant to damage him. "We have people working on it diligently".
Neal gave the government until 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) on April 23 to hand over the tax records.
"As the letter hints, Congress has broad powers and they're acting for proper purposes and usually the mental thoughts of the legislature don't negate the validity of the inquiry, but the question here is, are they in fact pursing a legitimate goal?" he said in an interview with Law&Crime. "They want the IRS audits from 2014, but how does that have to do with Donald Trump?" he questioned.
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William Consovoy, whose firm was retained by Trump to represent him on the matter, has written the Treasury's general counsel and said the congressional request "would set a risky precedent" if granted and that the IRS can not legally divulge the information.
Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump's returns.
The request for Trump's tax filings is but one of many oversight efforts launched by Democrats after taking back the House in last fall's midterms.
In recent weeks, Trump has said that the American people elected him without seeing his taxes and would do it again.
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