Dems press IRS chief to act on Trump tax returns

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig wouldn't say Wednesday that he alone would determine how to respond to Democrats' request for Trump's tax returns, disappointing Democrats who think that the Treasury Department should not be involved.

"Remember that we're a bureau of the Treasury. We are supervised by the Treasury," Rettig said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKey House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week Coalition of conservative groups to air ads against bipartisan proposal to end 'surprise' medical bills House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-Mass.) asked Rettig last week to provide him with six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns by Wednesday.

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The tax-code provision that Neal made the request under references the Treasury Secretary, but Neal sent the letter to Rettig because Treasury has delegated tax-administration responsibilities to the IRS.

Democrats argue that that delegation means that Treasury shouldn't play a role in determining how to respond to Neal's request, and that the decision should be up to Rettig.

"I think it's unfortunate that you're just not saying, 'it's my job and my job alone,'" said Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi in wake of reports of Saudi phone hacking MORE (D-Ore.).

"I'm aware of the delegation order, as is Treasury, but you must be aware that we're a bureau of Treasury and the Treasury supervises us," Rettig replied.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Hillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech MORE (D-Va.) also said he hopes that Rettig ensures that as he responds to Neal's request, he does so "without any interference from the Treasury secretary or anybody at the White House."

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Rettig said no one in the Trump administration has discussed with him how he'd comply with a request for Trump's tax returns, and that no one at the White House has given him any instruction to not provide the returns.

The commissioner also said he would inform the Finance Committee if anyone at the White House asks him to not comply with Neal's request. He said he believes the law says that anyone at the IRS who received such an ask from the White House would have to report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Wednesday was the second consecutive day when Rettig was asked about the tax-return request during congressional hearings. He made similar comments on Tuesday before a House Appropriations subcommittee. During that time, he also said that he had spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us Key House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE to inform him that he received the request.

Mnuchin also testified before Congress on Tuesday, saying that Treasury's lawyers discussed the tax-return issue with White House lawyers before Neal made his request, but that he personally hadn't spoken to anyone at the White House about the matter.

While the IRS has a deadline of midnight to provide Trump's tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, it isn't clear exactly if and how the agency will respond.

“We received the letter, we’re working on the letter with counsel, and we anticipate responding,” Rettig said.