Treasury to miss Dem deadline for Trump tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers On the Money: Pelosi draws line at .2T | Jobless claims dip | Swing-state jobless numbers an issue for Trump MORE said Wednesday that the department will not be able to finish its review of Democrats' request for President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response 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 NealRep. Cedric Richmond set to join House Ways and Means Committee Coons beats back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney to start hedge fund Fauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line 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 BradyBusinesses, states pass on Trump payroll tax deferral Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line On The Money: US deficit hits trillion amid pandemic | McConnell: Chance for relief deal 'doesn't look that good' | House employees won't have payroll taxes deferred 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 GrassleySenate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Senators offer disaster tax relief bill Trump spikes political football with return of Big Ten season 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 DoggettTrump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line Trump signs new executive order aimed at lowering drug prices Overnight Health Care: Fauci says family has faced threats | Moderna to charge to a dose for its vaccine | NYC adding checkpoints to enforce quarantine MORE (D-Texas), a Ways and Means Committee member.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator blocks Schumer resolution aimed at Biden probe as tensions run high Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal Hillicon Valley: TikTok, Oracle seek Trump's approval as clock winds down | Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general | 400K people register to vote on Snapchat 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.