Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, set April 23 as the deadline for the Trump administration to submit six years of President's tax returns to the House of Commons. committee in a letter to the IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig Saturday.
Neal initially requested that the statements be submitted by April 10; this deadline was not respected, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin expressed his concerns about "the unprecedented nature of this demand".
In his new letter to Rettig, Neal points to Mnuchin's concerns about the Congressional's investigative power of "lack of merit" and, as he did in his first request, the Speaker cited a law of the years. 1920 authorizing the Committee of Ways and Means to request tax returns from taxpayers.
"To date, the IRS has not provided the requested return information, despite an unequivocal obligation to do so under Section 6103 (f)," he said. wrote Neal. "I'm waiting for an answer from the IRS before 5 pm. April 23, 2019. Know that if you do not, your failure will be interpreted as a refusal of my request. "
In his letter of April 10, Mnuchin told Neal that he planned to consult the Department of Justice on the authority of Congress for tax return applications. Neal said this coordination was inappropriate.
"It is not the function of the IRS, the Treasury or Justice to question or guess the motives of the committee or its reasonable decisions about the need to file tax returns and return information. requested, "wrote Neal.
While Democrats continue to argue their case for obtaining tax returns, President Trump's lawyers argue that the demand for his financial statements is a politicization of the IRS.
Last week, William Consovoy sent a letter to the Treasury arguing that disclosure of Trump's tax returns was a violation of privacy, according to Emily Stewart of Vox.
"Even though Ways and Means had a legitimate committee purpose to request the president's tax returns and information, this goal does not entail President Neal's claim," wrote Consovoy. "His request is a transparent effort by a political party to harass a leader of the other party because they do not like his politics and his speech."
What happens if the April 23 deadline is passed?
If the Trump administration does not provide the reports to the Ways and Means Committee by the latest deadline, there will be only a few options left, including issuing subpoenas or attempting to resolve them. the case in court.
Sean Illing of Vox spoke to 11 lawyers about what could happen if the Treasury Department refused to release the returns.
Philip Hackney, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said that Neal had until now well covered his legal bases, and that the president "might consider detaining the IRS commissioner and may -be the Secretary of the Treasury in contempt of Congress "if Mnuchin refuses to cooperate.
From there, "the committee could then file a declaratory judgment asking the DC District Court to try these officers for contempt of court and grant them an injunction ordering them to comply with the law," said Hackney. It would be up to this court to decide whether or not to accept this request.
This option could be the one that Neal is open to explore. He told CNN recently that his committee had been paying attention to how he had asked for Trump's tax returns to "make sure that the case we had set up was one that was resistant to the tax." critical review of the courts. "