Treasury to miss Dem deadline for Trump tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLouise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg Mnuchin: US 'focused' on reaching trade deal with UK by end of year Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  MORE said Wednesday that the department will not be able to finish its review of Democrats' request for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir 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 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.).

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 MulvaneyFormer senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Bolton lawyer slams 'corrupted' White House review process after book leak Democrats step up pressure over witnesses after Bolton bombshell 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 BradyConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Trump economic aide says new tax proposal could be unveiled this summer Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills 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 GrassleyTax season could bring more refund confusion Graham vows Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle 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 DoggettGreen says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely Appeals court strikes ObamaCare mandate, sends case back to lower court House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Texas), a Ways and Means Committee member.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTax season could bring more refund confusion Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Wyden vows push to force release of Khashoggi assessment 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.