On Saturday, a prominent Democrat Democrat reinforced his demand for access to President Donald Trump's tax returns, asserting to the IRS that the law clearly gave them the right to do so. If the government does not respond by April 23, the dispute will be referred to a federal court.
Trump's Treasury chief, who oversees the IRS, has cited "complicated legal issues" and lamented "an arbitrary deadline" set by the Congress, while asserting that he would respond within the deadlines.
A new letter from Representative Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, comes after the Trump administration has asked for more time to consider its initial request last week. Neal had asked for six years of personal and professional tax returns from Trump.
Neal, D-Mass., Argues that a 1920 law stating that the "IRS" must provide "any tax return requested by Congress" is unequivocal and does not raise any legal issues complicated "and that the objections of the Treasury Department are unfounded.
The letter sent to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is the latest exchange on the fierce fight over Mr. Trump's return, which would allow lawmakers to better understand the president's trade relations and the conflicts of the day. Potential interests related to its supervisory role.
Asked about Saturday 's letter, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would respond in the new deadline set by Neal, without however promising to file Trump' s tax returns by that date. Mnuchin is the secretary of the Cabinet that oversees the IRS.
Mnuchin disputed that Neal characterized the litigation dispute as a simple matter under the law governing this case.
"These are complicated legal issues and I think it's more important for US taxpayers to do things right than to respect an arbitrary deadline," Mnuchin told reporters. "I just want to point out that it's a decision that has huge precedents in terms of the militarization potential of the IRS."
Mnuchin said the Treasury Department's lawyers were working "diligently" to investigate the issues and were in contact with Justice Department lawyers. But he said that he had not personally discussed the matter with Attorney General William Barr.
Mnuchin said that he thought Neal was simply choosing an arbitrary deadline and he refused to speculate on how the administration would proceed if the matter went to court.
Trump has refused to provide his tax information as a candidate in 2016 and as chairman, something that party candidates have traditionally done in the name of transparency. By withholding his tax returns, Trump has not followed the standard followed by the presidents since Richard Nixon began the practice in 1969.
During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to publish his statements but said he was undergoing a routine audit: "I can not." Being audited does not constitute a legal impediment to anyone publishing their statements. And after the mid-term elections in November, Trump asserted at a press conference that the deposits were too complex to be understood.
At a hearing in the House on Tuesday, several times during a hearing in the House on whether a regulation prohibited a taxpayer from disclosing statements when he was doing the same thing. subject to verification, Rettig replied "no".
The question seems to be coming to a federal court. In view of a court challenge, Neal told Rettig that he had two weeks to respond – before 5 pm. April 23. If Rettig does not, Neal says he will interpret this as a refusal of the application, which could pave the way for a legal battle. Neal could also request a return by subpoena.
Mnuchin told Neal last week that he needed more time to review the unprecedented demand for Trump's return and consult with the Justice Department on this.
At Congressional hearings, Mnuchin accused lawmakers of demanding Trump's return for political reasons. But he also acknowledged his "statutory responsibilities" and declared that he respects congressional oversight. Some Treasury observers note that Mnuchin's decision to consult the Justice Department may suggest that Treasury lawyers believe Neal is legally entitled to receive Trump's return.
Neal said on Saturday that the administration did not have the right to "question or guess" his motives.
Trump's interim chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Democrats will "never see" returns, "and they should not," and "they know it." Mulvaney tried to portray the president's taxes issue as an old piece of information, claiming that the case had "already been litigated in the elections" and that the American people had "elected him anyway".
William Consovoy, whose firm was retained by Trump to represent him, wrote the Treasury's General Counsel and stated that Congress' request would "create a dangerous precedent" if it was accepted and that the IRS does can legally disclose this information.
Martin Crutsinger, writer at AP Economics, contributed to this report.