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Trump urges judge to prevent IRS from submitting tax returns to Congress

WASHINGTON – Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday night urged a federal judge to prevent the Treasury Department and IRS from submitting his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Trump’s taxes have long been the “white whale” of Democrats, lawyers said.

The reason given by the committee chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, for asking for the returns, to examine how the IRS verifies chairmen, is simply a pretext for wanting to research something embarrassing, they told the federal judge.

The committee sued the Treasury Department when it refused to hand over the statements under the Trump administration. But the Biden administration changed its stance and agreed to provide the returns, so the committee sought to dismiss the lawsuit. Trump and his companies then intervened, seeking to block the release.

“Nobody thinks President Neal asked for President Trump’s tax returns so he could study IRS audit legislation. Nobody. President Neal admits that this rationale was just a litigation strategy. fellow committee members don’t buy it either, “the former president’s lawyers said.

“Anyone who has paid even minimal attention to American politics understands what is going on here: President Trump did not voluntarily disclose his tax returns during the campaign, his political opponents assume the information would harm him, and his opponents therefore want to force disclosure.

The IRS has a long-standing policy requiring audits of a president’s tax returns, to relieve its employees of having to decide when such a review was appropriate. In asking for Trump’s feedback, the Ways and Means Committee said it was “concerned whether the IRS has the resources and safeguards to effectively audit returns from Mr. Trump and future presidents like it.”

The committee said it also wanted to see if the audits were carried out independently, without any inappropriate attempts to influence them. He invoked a federal law that requires the Treasury Department and the IRS to file an individual’s tax returns at the request of one of three congressional tax code drafting committees.

Trump’s lawyers argued Tuesday that the federal law is unconstitutional because the Constitution does not give Congress that kind of unlimited power to seek information. They also said he was entitled to the same legal protections he had during his tenure.

“The committee’s request is in effect a request to a sitting president: it was issued while President Trump was in office, has been continuously pursued, and has always been linked to his status as president. “

House attorneys have said the committee’s need for returns is real, but that as a purely legal matter federal courts do not have the power to review the motives of Congress to determine whether its actions are valid under the Constitution.

As for Trump’s claims of privilege, the committee said they only applied to the records of a sitting president in response to a subpoena. This request, on the other hand, is authorized by a specific federal law, and the standards adopted by this decision do not apply to the cases of a former president.

The Ways and Means Committee first requested the returns in 2019. The Trump administration’s Treasury Department refused and the Justice Department’s legal counsel’s office upheld the decision, concluding that the request was invalid .

But under the Biden administration, the Treasury Department and IRS said the returns should be surrendered, and a new Justice Department legal analysis said the previous finding had not yielded a coordinated branch of the government. government for the “respect and deference” it was due.

U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden for the District of Columbia has scheduled a hearing in the dispute on November 16.

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