Democratic senator questions IRS commissioner over tax returns memo

Democratic senator questions IRS commissioner over tax returns memo
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy & Environment — High court will hear case on water rule Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks Biden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  MORE (D-Ore.) sent a letter to the IRS commissioner Wednesday about a confidential memo that reportedly contradicts the Trump administration's reasons for not complying with a congressional subpoena for President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE's tax returns. 

Wyden wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking him a series of questions including about when he first became aware of the memo that was reported last month by The Washington Post and who else in the IRS knew about it. 

The Oregon Democrat said in his letter to Rettig that the commissioner, in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee, "intimated that you had not discussed with IRS legal staff whether you as IRS Commissioner have discretion over whether to comply with a request for tax information."

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Wyden added that the reported existence of the memo, which was prepared in 2018, according to the Post, "may have significant implications on your House Appropriations subcommittee testimony" and his prior response to a letter by Wyden. 

Wyden said in a statement that “Congress needs to investigate to know whether Trump appointees have engaged in a cover up to conceal political interference inside the IRS." 

"Career IRS officials prepared a legal analysis stating that the agency was required to provide the returns, and it was buried. We need to know who saw this memo and when," he added. 

The draft memo written by an IRS lawyer last fall determined that the agency has to provide tax returns that are requested by Congress unless the president invokes executive privilege. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules MORE last month rejected a subpoena for the president's tax returns. He has said the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.

President Trump has not invoked executive privilege over his tax returns, according to officials. 

The Hill has reached out to the IRS for comment.