Top Democrats call for investigation into whether there has been interference in Trump’s audits
Two top Senate Democrats are calling for Treasury Department inspectors general to investigate whether there has been any inappropriate interference into IRS audits of President Trump.
The request Thursday, from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), comes after The New York Times reported last week that Trump has been subject to a years-long audit over a $72.9 million refund he claimed in 2010.
“Due to significant concerns of potential efforts to undermine the integrity of the mandatory audit process and other audits within the IRS, it is essential that the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) ensure the appropriate safeguards remain in place to prevent such interference at the agency,” Schumer and Wyden wrote in a letter to the leaders of the two offices.
Trump is the first president or major party presidential nominee in decades who has not made any of his tax returns public. He has cited an IRS audit as the reason for the lack of disclosure, but the IRS has said that audits don’t prevent people from making their own tax information public.
Schumer and Wyden in their letter said that Trump has in the past said that it’s unfair he’s being audited. They also noted that under federal law, it’s illegal for the president and other top executive branch officials to request that an IRS employee conduct or terminate an audit of any specific taxpayer.
In addition to the audit mentioned in the Times story, it is IRS policy to conduct mandatory audits of the president and vice president’s tax returns while they are in office. Schumer and Wyden said they want to make sure that both the audits under the mandatory-audit program and the one mentioned in the Times story are protected from improper influence.
Schumer and Wyden asked the IG offices to investigate whether there has been any “undue influence” on any IRS audits of Trump, including whether any executive branch employee outside of the agency has contacted any IRS employee about Trump’s audits.
The senators then want the inspectors general to either provide reassurances to lawmakers in a closed session that they have found no evidence of interference or to brief lawmakers in a closed session about any interference that has occurred and take enforcement action against it.
In 2019, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) requested six years of Trump’s tax returns from the IRS, saying that the panel was conducting oversight and considering legislation related to how the IRS audits presidents. The Trump administration has rejected the request and subsequent subpoenas, and the issue is the subject of ongoing litigation.
Neal said in a statement last week that the Times story bolsters his case.
“Now that Mr. Trump is President of the United States and oversees the agency he has fought against for years, we must ensure he is not attempting to interfere in the presidential audit program,” Neal said.