Mnuchin says request for Trump's tax returns is under review

Geraldine Edwards
April 11, 2019

"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. They say it requires the Treasury secretary to turn over any tax returns to the chairmen of the congressional tax committees who request them for investigative purposes.

"It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting for a long period of time", Mnuchin said. "Frankly, the people don't care".

Trump declined to release his records while running for president in 2016, breaking with decades of precedent.

"This highlights the fact that there's an inherent conflict of interest for the agency to appropriately audit its boss", George Yin, a University of Virginia School of Law professor and former Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff tells Fortune.

In the letter, Mnuchin references Neal's preparation for the request, writing that "you too have acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the request". If the department refused to hand them over, Democrats would likely sue.

Later Wednesday, Mnuchin said he is consulting with the Justice Department on Neal's request.

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"We intend to review your request carefully", he adds.

"So if this is the way you want to treat me, then I'll rethink whether I voluntarily come back here", Mnuchin said. As the White House and their allies dig their heels in, the question of whether Trump has anything to hide feels like it's being answered, but not in a way that will lead to any consequences until after a possible lengthy court battle.

President Donald Trump is facing an imminent congressional deadline for his administration to provide his tax returns but he says he "won't do it" while he's under audit by the IRS.

Mnuchin told politicians that his department will "follow the law" but hasn't shared the department's interpretation of the statute.

"We would not ever ask for the White House's permission on this nor did they give us the permission".

The department, which has consulted with the White House on the panel's demand, did not respond to requests for comment. "I'd be surprised if [Chief Justice] John G. Roberts Jr. wants to resolve this dispute, but it is an important inter-branch dispute".

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Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez of NY shot back, "And the law says - upon a written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate or the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the secretary shall furnish".

Wyden cited the importance of the IRS to be independent of political pressure.

Rettig had agreed with Democrats on Tuesday that it's primarily his decision to make, though he reports to Mnuchin. Mnuchin says he "looks forward to responding, " but it appears clear that Treasury won't meet the deadline and actually produce the returns.

Rettig said he hadn't been instructed not to comply with the request by anyone acting on the White House's behalf. "Individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws".

Regardless of those risks, past presidents released their tax returns while in office. Under questioning at his confirmation hearing last August, Rettig pledged to uphold the political independence of the IRS.

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