Senate Finance enters Volkswagen fray

The Senate Finance Committee opened a new front in investigations into Volkswagen on Tuesday, questioning whether the automaker's rigging of emission control systems cost the Treasury millions in wrongly issued subsidies.

Finance Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs Top Finance Dem wants panel to investigate Trump Foundation MORE (R-Utah) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Supreme Court allows states to collect sales taxes from online retailers | Judge finds consumer bureau structure unconstitutional | Banks clear Fed stress tests States brace for dramatic overhaul to federal foster care funding Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax MORE (Ore.), noted that Volkswagen told the IRS that diesel cars thought to have had their emissions systems manipulated were eligible for a tax credit for fuel efficient vehicles.

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The two senators suggested that owners of certain 2009 and 2010 Volkswagen models received well over $50 million in subsidies from a $1,300 per vehicle credit established roughly a decade ago. 

Almost a half million vehicles in all were rigged to wrongly pass emissions tests through "defeat devices" that Volkswagen has admitted to installing.

"This activity raises questions of whether Volkswagen made false representations to the U.S. government in its certification for federal tax subsidies," Hatch and Wyden wrote.

Hatch and Wyden pressed Volkswagen for a wide range of information by the end of the month, including any discussions between the automaker and the Treasury Department over the vehicles and documents asserting to certify the vehicles' eligibility for the tax credit.