Sunday, July 21, 2024

US: Supreme Court orders Trump to hand over tax returns


The US Supreme Court has ruled to hand over former US President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee after a three-year legal battle. The Democratic-controlled House committee has asked for six years of tax returns from 2015 to 2020 from Trump and some of his companies. “Tuesday’s court order does not impose any legal restrictions.

When Trump was president, the Treasury Department refused to release the documents. But the Biden administration said federal law is clear: The commission has the right to review the tax returns of any taxpayer, including the president of the United States. Lower courts agreed, rejecting Trump’s claims that the commission should only make the documents public.

The court rejected without comment Trump’s request for an order preventing the Treasury Department from turning over six years of tax returns from Trump and some of his companies to the Democratic-controlled House committee. This is Trump’s second defeat at the Supreme Court in the past few months. In October, a court declined to intervene in a legal battle over an FBI search of Trump’s Florida properties that revealed classified documents. In a dispute over Trump’s tax returns while he was president, the Treasury Department has refused to release documents.

Chief Justice John Roberts ordered a Nov. 1 temporary freeze for the court to consider legal issues raised by Trump’s lawyers and counterarguments from the administration and the House of Representatives. Three weeks later, the court reversed Roberts’ order without objection.

Trump’s staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The House said the order preventing the IRS from releasing tax returns would give lawmakers “little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which could end quickly.”

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If Trump were to get the nation’s Supreme Court to intervene, he could have overrun the panel’s time as Republicans prepare to take control of the House in January. If the issue isn’t resolved by that date, Republicans will almost certainly drop their request for the documents. The House task force and its chairman, Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and the former president’s compliance with tax laws. A federal law requires the Internal Revenue Service to “provide” any taxpayer’s income to a handful of top lawmakers.

The Justice Department under the Trump administration supported then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision not to release the tax returns to Congress. Mnuchin said he could withhold the documents because he believed Democrats wanted the documents for partisan reasons. A lawsuit ensued. After President Joe Biden took office, the commission renewed the request, asking for Trump’s tax returns and additional information for the 2015-2020 period.

The White House argued that the request was valid and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. Trump later tried to block the delivery in court. Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of the criminal investigation. The case went to the Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s argument that he has broad immunity as president.


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