Three months after Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) has made his long-awaited move to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Neal, who can review the tax documents of any U.S. taxpayer as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, requested the past six years of the president’s personal and business tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Wednesday.
Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public, and his administration is expected to challenge Neal’s move to obtain them. While Neal’s request was to the IRS, not Trump personally, the president said he “would not be inclined” to share his tax information when asked about it Wednesday evening.
Though Ways and Means Committee Democrats had indicated they would seek the president’s tax returns shortly after their party was projected to retake the House in November, Neal frustrated some progressives with his “go-slow approach.”
The Massachusetts Democrat insisted the delay was to ensure his request — which cites a provision that was added to the tax code after the Teapot Dome scandal under President Warren Harding’s administration — could withstand legal challenges. During a Ways and Means hearing last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified that the IRS commissioner typically handles such tax requests.
“The law is crystal clear — the Treasury Department must provide tax returns to the Ways & Means and Finance Committees when the chairman requests them,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “I expect the Treasury Department to comply in a timely manner.”
Prior to Trump, disclosure of tax information was standard for all presidential candidates dating back to Richard Nixon. Following a New York Times report in 2016 that indicated Trump may not have paid any federal income taxes for decades, the now-president claimed, “That makes me smart.”