House Democrats continue to battle for the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns as New York inches closer to releasing his state financial information, as The Inquisitr reported. Now, The Washington Post reports that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a legal memo that says that the president must release his returns if requested by Congress — unless he asserts executive privilege.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has denied House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal’s request for Trump’s tax returns many times and even refused a subpoena. As of now, House leaders are considering the next steps to take moving forward.
But the confidential IRS report states that disclosing tax returns to the committee is “mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs.” It also says that if the statutory conditions are met, the Treasury secretary has no place to decide whether to disclose the information or not — a possible direct contradiction to the claims of Mnuchin, who says that there is no legislative purpose for Neal’s request.
“[T]he Secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee. . . to state a reason for the request,” it says. It adds that the “only basis the agency’s refusal to comply with a committee’s subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege.”
A confidential IRS legal memo obtained by The Washington Post reportedly stipulates that tax returns must be given to Congress unless Trump asserts executive privilege over them https://t.co/ClxnbkhrkM
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) May 21, 2019
Although it is unclear who penned or reviewed the memo, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and current chief counsel Michael Desmond are reportedly not familiar with it. In addition, the IRS claims that the memo never made it into the hands of the Treasury Department.
Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, reviewed the memo and thinks it highlights that clash of opinions between career staff at the IRS and workers acting in Trump’s interests both at the agency and the Treasury Department.
“Mnuchin is saying the House Ways and Means Committee has not asserted a legitimate legislative purpose. The memo says they don’t have to assert a legitimate legislative purpose — or any purpose at all.”
Democrats believe that Trump is breaking a decades-old presidential tradition of releasing tax returns to hide foreign ties or tax cheating, per BloombergQuint. But as The Inquisitr reported, Republicans view the battle as a partisan effort to embarrass Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election to damage his chances of winning.