Treasury to miss Dem deadline for Trump tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms Trump to tour Apple factory with Tim Cook on Wednesday The Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today MORE said Wednesday that the department will not be able to finish its review of Democrats' request for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE's tax returns by Wednesday — the deadline that Democrats had given the IRS to provide the documents.

"The [House Ways and Means] Committee requests the materials by April 10, but the Treasury Department will not be able to complete its review of your request by that date," Mnuchin said in a letter to the committee's chairman, Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKrystal Ball accuses Democrats of having 'zero moral authority' amid impeachment inquiry House Democrats object to giving Trump notice before seeking NY tax returns On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (D-Mass.).

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Mnuchin said Treasury has started to discuss the issue with the Justice Department "to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution." Mnuchin added that he would supervise Treasury's review of the request "to ensure that taxpayer protections and applicable laws are scrupulously observed, consistent with my statutory responsibilities."

The announcement that Treasury will miss Democrats' deadline signals what could be a prolonged fight between Democrats and Trump over the president's tax returns.

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Neal last week sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asking for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. He made the request under Section 6103(f) of the federal tax code, which states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” tax returns requested by the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees, provided that returns be viewed in a closed session.

In his request, Neal said the Ways and Means Committee wanted Trump’s tax returns because the panel is interested in legislative proposals and oversight relating to how the IRS audits presidents.

Democrats argue that the law is clear that the IRS has to provide Congress with the requested tax returns.

But Trump and his surrogates have pushed back forcefully on the request.

Trump on Wednesday reiterated that he doesn’t want to release his tax returns while under audit. However, the IRS has said an audit doesn’t prevent people from releasing their own tax information, and the decision about whether to comply with Neal’s request does not lie with Trump.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report Schiff knocks Mulvaney over failure to testify in impeachment probe Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE over the weekend said Democrats will “never” see Trump’s tax returns.

Mnuchin said in his letter Wednesday that congressional Republicans have raised concerns about the request and that Neal has also acknowledged that the request is unprecedented.

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"We share that caution, and we agree that this is not a routine section 6103(f) request," Mnuchin wrote. "The Committee's request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of Congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens."

"The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically-motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power," he added.

Congressional Republicans reacted positively to Mnuchin's letter.

"The intent of Section 6103 is clear: the tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions," Ways and Means Committee ranking member Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement. "The Treasury Department is right to carefully review the privacy impact this request would have on every taxpayer.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBooker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Iowa) said Mnuchin is "right to consult with the Department of Justice before responding more fully."

"House Democrats’ unprecedented request has serious implications for all Americans and requires serious, careful analysis," he said.

Democrats took issue with the fact that Mnuchin wrote the letter, rather than IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, and that Mnuchin said he would play a supervisory role in the examination of the request.

While Section 6103(f) specifically mentions the Treasury secretary, Neal addressed the letter to Rettig because the Treasury Department delegates tax administration matters to the IRS. Democrats have argued that Mnuchin shouldn't be involved in responding to the request and that if he did, it would be improper political interference.

“I received a letter this evening from Secretary Mnuchin related to my request to the IRS commissioner," Neal said in a statement on Wednesday night. "The department has decided not to allow the IRS to comply with my request by the April 10 deadline. I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response to the commissioner in the coming days.”

Democrats are expected to push hard to obtain Trump's tax returns and have predicted that the issue may eventually result in a court fight. Neal may send a second letter to the administration in the coming days.

"Mnuchin ignores the delegation of authority to the IRS commissioner as the sole individual responsible for compliance," said Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettWhite House talking new tax cuts with GOP On The Money: Lawmakers hammer Zuckerberg over Facebook controversies | GOP chair expects another funding stopgap | Senate rejects Dem measure on SALT deduction cap workarounds House committee advances measure taxing nicotine in vaping products MORE (D-Texas), a Ways and Means Committee member.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said that if Mnuchin doesn't provide Democrats with Trump's tax returns, Mnuchin will "break the law."

"There is no excuse for Secretary Mnuchin to not meet Chairman Neal’s deadline," Wyden said. "The law is clear, and consultation with the Justice Department is not required."

Updated 8:15 p.m.