Treasury rejects Democrats’ demand for Trump’s tax returns

Treasury rejects Democrats’ demand for Trump’s tax returns

"I would love to give them but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit", Trump told reporters outside the White House Wednesday, the deadline for Trump to respond to Neal's letter.

"While I'm under audit, I won't do it", he added, ignoring that the IRS by law is mandated to release the tax returns of an American if requested by the Chairman of the House Way and Means Committee. Over the weekend, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats would never obtain the tax returns, though he did not say how he was sure this would be the case. But he also faces pressure not to let working relations with congressional Democrats, in the Financial Services Committee in particular, deteriorate as they have the power to make his life hard.

"I expect the secretary to honor our invitation to return so that the rest of these members have an opportunity to pursue their questions", she said.

"I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational", Mnuchin said.

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018.

But he rejected Democrat lawmakers' suggestion that this could have been illegal or improper, saying it was merely a consultation and that he had not personally been involved.

Democrats are relying on a provision in the Internal Revenue Service code enacted in 1924 after the Teapot Dome oil leases scandal rocked President Warren Harding's administration. Trump has promised to release the returns after a conclusion of an audit, although independent legal experts have said that an audit would not bar him from doing so.

But many legal experts agree that this law is intentionally open-ended, meaning Congress still needs a legitimate legislative goal to make that request. But Rettig reiterated that there's no rule prohibiting taxpayers under audit from releasing their returns.

"Nobody wants to go over that because it's so good".

Trump suggested that "frankly, the people don't care" whether they see his tax returns, noting that he won in 2016 with the same audit issue and that he has released a 104-page summary of his assets and values. William Consovoy, one of Trump's lawyers, has advised the IRS and Treasury Department to refuse the request until a legal opinion can be issued.

Trump has broken with tradition by not voluntarily releasing his tax returns. Once the tax returns are out, reporters could find something that the IRS missed.

Democrats want access to the returns as part of investigations into Trump's business dealings and his campaign.

Neal's initial letter, sent a week ago, didn't lay out any consequences for the IRS if it didn't comply, and a spokesman said a likely course would be a second, more insistent, letter.

While tax returns sometimes expose something marginally embarrassing, most are "far too boring for anyone to look at", University of Iowa law professor Andy Grewal tells Fortune.

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