The Supreme Court declined to block the IRS from handing over Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. A committee member said the committee expects to receive the documents covering 2015 to 2021 within a week and immediately start reviewing them.
“This rises above politics, and the Committee will now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years,” Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., said in a statement.
This battle has been going on since 2019. In an initial court filing, lawyers for the committee wrote they wanted to investigate the IRS’s administration of tax laws and policies regarding presidential tax returns and ensure that President Trump was complying with all tax laws.
“Without reviewing the requested return materials, the Committee cannot ensure that the IRS’s audit process is functioning fairly and effectively, understand how provisions of the tax code are implicated by President Trump’s returns, or exercise its legislative judgment to determine whether changes to the code may be warranted,” the filing stated.
From the moment Trump took office, Democrats sought access to his tax returns. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., said he thought American people should see them in 2017.
“They deserve to know if their president is dealing in the foreign affairs of other countries and whether other countries are dealing in our foreign affairs. And if you don’t think I’m talking about Russia, you’re wrong,” Pascrell said in an interview with CNN.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said now that the matter is settled in court, Congress should pass legislation requiring presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns.
“These documents are vital to meeting the House’s Constitutional mandate: guarding the public interest, defending our national security and holding our public officials to account,” Speaker Pelosi said in a statement when the Justice’s decision was released.
But this effort has been led by Ways and Means Democrats who control a majority on the committee. The balance of power will flip to Republicans starting in January. GOP members said the Supreme Court’s actions could open the door to the IRS being used as a political weapon and make the returns public.
“The Supreme Court has no idea what their inaction unleashes. By effectively granting the majority party in either chamber of Congress nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of political enemies — political figures, private citizens, or even justices of the Supreme Court themselves — they are opening a dangerous new political battleground where no citizen is safe,” Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said in a statement.
Brady called on Congress to legislatively close what he called a loophole the Supreme Court created by not blocking the release.