Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said congressional Democrats will “never” see President Donald Trump’s tax returns, after a key House member formally requested tax information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“Nor should they,” Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally asked the IRS on Wednesday to turn over Trump’s tax information in the form of returns for years 2013 through 2018. Neal, invoking authority enshrined in the federal tax code, has given the agency until April 10 to comply.
Mulvaney characterized the request as a “political hit job” with which the IRS should not comply.
“That’s an issue that was already litigated during the election. Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns. They knew that he didn’t and they elected him anyway,” Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday. However, a majority of voters still want to see Trump’s tax returns, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
Even if congressional Democrats obtain Trump’s tax returns, these documents couldn’t immediately become public, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) told the Hill, as members would have to vote on whether to release anything.
Trump is the first president in more than 40 years to not release tax documents to the public. When running for president, Trump pledged to release his tax returns after an IRS audit. (Note, the IRS maintains that nothing prevents a president from releasing tax returns while under audit.) Trump later reneged on that pledge, saying that he would only release his tax information once he is out of office.
Trump’s past involvement in serious financial crimes might explain the unprecedented lack of transparency. A bombshell New York Times investigation revealed Trump received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire and much of it came from dubious tax schemes the president abetted.
A few Republicans have said they’d be interested in seeing Trump’s tax returns, including Mitt Romney (UT). That said, Romney refuses to support legislative action to make this happen even though it’s clear the president won’t release this information on his own.
“[Trump] said he would be happy to release his returns. So I wish he’d do that. But I have to also tell you I think the Democrats are just playing along his handbook, which is, going after his tax returns through legislative action is moronic,” Romney said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
It’s unclear whether congressional Democrats will ultimately succeed. The law clearly favors Neal’s claim, but a court battle could ultimately delay the release of Trump’s tax returns until after the presidential election, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center senior fellow and decades-long tax lawyer Steve Rosenthal told ABC News.
Meanwhile, various Democrats running for president in 2020 already released their tax returns: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Gov. Jay Inslee (WA). Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont running as a Democrat, has notably delayed disclosing his own tax returns despite repeated promises to do so.