WASHINGTON – The battle between Congress and the executive branch over the release President Donald Trump’s tax returns entered the litigation phase on Tuesday after House Democrats filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
“Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the Nation’s voluntary tax system,” says the suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington D.C.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the suit.
It was filed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and names Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig as defendants. Both Mnuchin and Rettig refused to comply with subpoenas for the returns.
Neal wrote both agency heads in April and asked that they provide the committee with six years worth of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
The controversy over Trump’s tax returns dates back to the 2016 presidential campaign when he decided to break with a 40-year tradition in which candidates made their annual returns public.
Since taking office Trump has rejected requests to make his tax returns public, saying he is not able to do so because he is under audit. The IRS is not allowed to confirm an audit; the agency is prohibited by law from discussing a taxpayer’s finances without a court order.