December 6, 2022

Supreme Court approves handing over Trump tax returns to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the immediate extradition of former President Donald Trump. Tax reports to congressional committee after three-year legal battle.

The court rejected Trump’s request for an order to prevent the Treasury Department from releasing six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee, without specified dissent.

Alone among recent presidents, Trump refused to release his tax returns during his successful 2016 campaign or during his four years in the White House, citing what he said was an ongoing audit by the IRS. Last week, Trump announced he would run again in 2024.

This is the former president’s second defeat in the Supreme Court in the past few months and the third this year. In October, a court declined to enter into a legal battle surrounding an FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate. Secret documents were found in it.

The court also refused to stop the National Archives from handing over documents to a House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Only Justice Clarence Thomas voted in favor of Trump.

In a dispute over Trump’s tax returns while he was president, the Treasury Department has refused to release records. But the Biden administration said federal law is clear that the panel has the right to examine the income of any taxpayer, including the president.

Lower courts agreed that the panel has broad authority to obtain tax returns, and rejected Trump’s claims that it was overreaching and only required to make the documents public.

Chief Justice John Roberts on Nov. 1 imposed a temporary stay to allow the court to weigh legal issues raised by Trump’s lawyers and counterarguments from the administration and the House of Representatives.

Three weeks later, the court vacated Roberts’ order without comment.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the committee chairman until the next Congress begins in January, said in a statement that his group “will now conduct the oversight we have desired for the past three and a half years.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The House argued that 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 is rapidly approaching its end.”

If Trump had persuaded the nation’s Supreme Court to intervene, he could have run the clock on the committee as Republicans look poised to take control of the House in January. If the issue is not resolved by then, they will surely abandon the registration request.

The House Ways and Means committee first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an Internal Revenue Service audit program and investigation into the former president’s tax law compliance. A federal law says the Internal Revenue Service can “release” any taxpayer’s income to a few top lawmakers.

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department backed then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to withhold tax returns from Congress. Mnuchin argued that he could withhold the documents because he decided the documents were being sought by Democrats for partisan reasons. A lawsuit ensued.

After President Joe Biden took office, the committee renewed the request seeking Trump’s tax returns from 2015-2020 and additional information. The White House took the position that the request was valid and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. Trump later tried to stop the extradition to court.

Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of the criminal investigation. That case also went to the Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s argument that he has broad immunity as president.