Supreme Court refuses to block Congress from releasing Trump tax returns

Washington — The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block the Treasury Department from turning over several years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, clearing the way for Democrats to obtain the records when Republicans in January Take control of the house. ,

The full court’s latest order voids an interim stay issued by Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees emergency cases arising from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. House Paneled From obtaining Trump’s records. There was no known disagreement.

The dispute between Trump and the Ways and Means Committee arose from an April 2019 request from Chairman Richard Neal to the Internal Revenue Service for Trump’s personal tax records and eight of his business entities for 2013 to 2018. Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, made the request under a federal law that allows the Ways and Means Speaker to request the tax returns of certain individuals.

Neill is seeking the returns to determine whether Trump and his companies are complying with tax laws, and to see whether the IRS audit of the former president was conducted “thoroughly and appropriately”. was.

At the time, the Treasury Department refused to comply, arguing that the request was not supported by a valid legislative purpose. House Democrats then sued the IRS and the department to force them to turn over the tax information.

After a change in presidential administrations, and as the court battle continued, Neal renewed his request for five years’ income tax returns from Trump and his businesses for 2015 to 2020. Office of the Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice issued opinion The committee called for “substantial reasons” for requesting Trump’s tax information and that the Treasury Department was to turn over the records, contradicting a legal analysis conducted under the Trump administration. The Treasury said it intended to comply with Neill’s latter request. And hand over the material to Congress.

trump again requested to block Democrats argued the release of his tax records lacked a legitimate legislative purpose for demanding his returns and the request violated the Constitution because it was politically motivated. But a federal district court sided with the Democrats, ruling out Neal’s request to advance a congressional study of the president’s audit program. A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Senior US Circuit Judge David Santel wrote in a 33-page ruling that the Democrats’ request was made “to advance a subject on which legislation could be enacted,” and rejected the former president’s claims That the Democrats’ request for his tax information was unconstitutional.

Santel wrote, “While it is possible that Congress may attempt to intimidate a sitting president with coercive solicitation 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.” ” “It’s a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.”

Trump asked the full DC Circuit to reconsider the decision, but it declined to re-hear the case.

The IRS was ready to release the former president’s financial records to the Ways and Means Committee on Nov. 3, but Trump asked the Supreme Court To intervene and prevent the agency from altering his returns. Roberts’ temporary stay prevented his release.

In their filing in the high court, Trump’s lawyers warned that the legal battle between the former president and the House committee raises a separation of powers issue that will affect future presidents.

“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with funding or staffing issues at the IRS and everything to do with the release of the President’s tax information to the public,” he claimed.

But in asking the Supreme Court to allow the House to obtain Trump’s records, the Biden administration reiterated lower courts’ findings that Neill’s request served a legitimate legislative purpose, and that it “restricted the participation of the former president’s papers.” warranted because it simply implements the applicable program.” For President and Vice President. ,

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prologer wrote, “The request was not too broad; the request offered detailed and specific evidence that the requested tax information would further its purpose; and the request did not unduly burden a former president, incumbent, or institution of Will do. The presidency.”

In a separate filing, lawyers for the Ways and Means Committee told the Supreme Court that Trump’s single term in office raised concerns about the IRS’s ability and about the ability for presidents to effectively enforce federal tax laws. expressed concern.

“Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Trump owned a complex web of businesses, engaged in business activities internationally, had a history of aggressive tax avoidance (as he claimed), prior to his presidency.” These “substantial concerns” prompted Neal to launch an investigation into the tax agency’s presidential audit program with respect to Trump’s returns, he wrote. inspired to do.

House lawyers also warned that “blessing” Trump’s position in the case would “significantly undermine Congress’ constitutional right to investigate and legislate.”

“Treasury’s delay in providing the requested tax information will leave the committee and Congress little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is ending soon,” he said.

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