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Federal Appeals Court Says IRS Can Give Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee

Federal Appeals Court Says IRS Can Give Trump’s Tax Returns to House Committee

Trump has time to appeal since the court stated its “judgment would not [be] issued for seven days.”

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that the IRS can give former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Trump has time to appeal since the court stated its “judgment would not [be] issued for seven days.”

It is important to remember that the request is not connected to the January 6th investigation.

In April 2019, Chairman Richard Neal demanded Trump’s tax returns along with some for his businesses for the past six years because “Congress, and his committee in particular, need to conduct oversight of the IRS, including its policy of auditing the tax returns of sitting presidents.”

Neal cited law 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1):

(1)Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

Tax returns won’t show anything. Haven’t we learned this from Rachel Maddow?

Trump’s administration claimed that “the request posed a threat to the First Amendment and the separation of powers.”

Circuit Judge David Sentelle, the author of the majority opinion, said the request was within the scope of the inquiry:

The Chairman’s Request has not clearly gone beyond the scope of the Committee’s inquiry. It is understandable that the Committee would want to compare returns filed during the presidency with those filed in the years before and after to see what effect, if any, Mr. Trump being the sitting President had on how his returns were treated by the Presidential Audit Program. Further, there is no reason that the Chairman’s Request should be confined to a single year of returns and return information. The Chairman has stated that the value of requesting six years of information is the ability to compare one year with another. And while it is possible that not every document requested by the Chairman will provide the Committee with the sought-after information, that is of no consequence. The Committee is permitted to go “up some ‘blind alleys’ and into nonproductive enterprises.” Eastland, 421 U.S. at 509.

Judge Karen Henderson concluded, “that the burdens borne by the Executive Branch are more severe and warrant much closer scrutiny than my colleagues have given them.”

Henderson brought up Neal’s promise to continue his investigation no matter who won in 2020. It sounds like she is issuing a warning about future investigations, especially if Trump wins in 2024:

Although we cannot know the extent to which the requests and investigations influenced—or were intended to influence—President Trump’s conduct while in office, it is not far-fetched to believe that such intrusive inquiries could have a chilling effect on a President’s ability to fulfill his obligations under the Constitution and effectively manage the Executive Branch.

The judge wrote that her decision didn’t come from Presidents vs. Chairmen of committees. It’s all about checks and balances:

This dispute pits the Executive Branch against the Legislative Branch as institutions, not current or former Presidents against the chairmen of various congressional committees. And “the interbranch conflict here does not vanish” simply because the current Administration says so, the political winds shift or different parties control one or the other rival branch. Cf. Mazars, 140 S. Ct. at 2034. The constitutional principle at stake is separation of powers, not separation of parties.


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The Gentle Grizzly | August 10, 2022 at 7:08 am

This is nothing but show-time for the press parrots. Anyone with any sense knows that the IRS has been trying to hang Trump for years, but can’t find even the slightest thing by which to do so.

“The Committee is permitted to go “up some ‘blind alleys’ and into nonproductive enterprises.” 

Gee, it may just be me but this sounds awfully like a fishing expedition?? 🤔🤔

Anyone know if any other Presidents have been audited like this?

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to mailman. | August 10, 2022 at 7:43 am

    “Anyone know if any other Presidents have been audited like this?”

    I can think of some who should have been.

      The IRS says it already audits all presidents. The committee claims its goal here is to investigate that process and see how well it works in practice. If they wanted to give their cover story more verisimilitude they would also ask for six years worth of returns from all past presidents, covering a similar period before and during their terms, as far back as the records go. That way it wouldn’t be glaringly obvious that they’re targeting Trump.

I’m no lawyer, but based on the law as described, the court has no choice but to grant the request by the House. I don’t see how SCOTUS and deny the request. Although the returns have to be viewed in closed session and can’t be leaked to the press.

The real problem is that when they are inevitably leaked to the press, there will be no consequences. Dems will again get away with flouting the law and suffer no consequences.

    GWB in reply to dging. | August 10, 2022 at 10:38 am

    The real problem is that when they are inevitably leaked to the press, there will be no consequences.

    Ironclaw in reply to dging. | August 10, 2022 at 6:40 pm

    There is the question of what legislative purpose studying one former president’s tax records, even those from when he wasn’t in office, could possibly serve.

    healthguyfsu in reply to dging. | August 11, 2022 at 1:44 am

    They’ve already been leaked to the press and they were a nothingburger. This fight is largely for Dems to continue acting like their sham committee is doing something.

    rocuall in reply to dging. | August 11, 2022 at 8:31 am

    If adam schiff is there they will leak

As far as 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1) goes, I would argue that having mobile phones with cameras in the same room as a citizen’s tax return no longer makes that a closed executive session.

That means that you don’t have to report illegal income. The original income tax got past the self-incrimination problem by guaranteeing that your tax return could not be shared with any other agency.

    Milhouse in reply to rhhardin. | August 10, 2022 at 9:40 am

    I don’t think this is correct.

    First of all, Congress is not an agency; there’s still no legal way that information from a tax return can get to the DOJ to prosecute you.

    Second, even if the information could get there, the fifth amendment would simply mean that they can’t prosecute you based on that information or anything derived therefrom.

    Suppose Trump were secretly involved in the cocaine trade, something that nobody even suspects him of, and he declared it in his tax return. Congress would now find out about it, but they couldn’t tell anyone. And even if they did, he couldn’t be prosecuted for it; even if the DOJ investigated it and found a ton of evidence, they would have to prove that they already suspected him before the information from his tax return leaked.

      Let’s turn that on its head, though, Milhouse:
      Let’s say someone claims Trump was secretly involved in the cocaine trade and he declared it in his tax returns. Someone who might have seen these returns as part of this process. (Let’s give this guy a fictional name… like Adam Schifft.) And, of course, no one could ever actually disclose the information in those tax returns – not the committee, not the IRS, not the DoJ. So, that accusation would just hang out there, forever.

      Now, there are ways through or around this. But many of them require the publication of private material, effectively negating the privacy rights of Trump. After all, that’s what he is trying to stop in the first place.

      It’s a bit silly of an example, except that we have seen much of that exact thing with the Russian Collusion malarkey – unfounded accusations that directly impacted the person accused, with all supporting evidence supposedly “classified” or under committee lock and key.

        Milhouse in reply to GWB. | August 10, 2022 at 11:45 am

        Well, first of all Schiff couldn’t openly say any of this. He couldn’t say that on Trump’s return he declared himself to be a cocaine dealer. Even if it were true, let alone if it were false. He could tell reporters about it privately (again whether it was true or false), and they could report it anonymously, so yes, the accusation would be out there, but if it was not true and Trump wanted to banish the rumor he could simply publish the return himself.

        In any case, that’s not what we’re discussing right now. We’re not discussing rumors or reputational damage, we’re discussing only the possibility of criminal prosecution. Rhhardin’s claim, which is what we are discussing, is that since prosecution is now possible, you are no longer required to report illegal income in the first place. My answer is that that can’t be correct. First of all, this has always been the law; there’s nothing new or surprising about this decision. And yet the courts have always said you do have to report illegal income. Second, letting Congress see a criminal’s tax return doesn’t expose him to prosecution, because the information can’t be used against him, so he can be prosecuted for not reporting it.

          You use “can’t” a lot where you should be saying “is not supposed to”.

          he could simply publish the return himself.
          Which would defeat the purpose of trying to keep the totally private tax information private. Hence, I said “…require the publication of private material, effectively negating the privacy rights of Trump.”

          Second, letting Congress see a criminal’s tax return doesn’t expose him to prosecution, because the information can’t be used against him
          And this is another case of “shouldn’t” being a better word than “can’t”, because we’ve all seen in the last couple of decades where plenty of “can’t” cases have become “can”, even when they shouldn’t be.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | August 10, 2022 at 4:35 pm

          No, I don’t mean “shouldn’t”, I mean “can’t”. Information obtained by the government by compulsion can’t be used in a criminal trial against the person who was compelled to provide it. Nor can any information derived from it. No court will ever allow it. This isn’t something the Dems can just do because they don’t care about the law; it’s something that’s simply not in their power to do.

          And yes, if the taxpayer wants to dispel rumors, his option is to publish his return himself. I don’t see the problem with that. There is no right not to have false rumors circulating about you; if such rumors exist, and you have information that could dispel them, then it’s your choice whether to sacrifice your privacy by publishing what you have, or to put up with the rumors. There’s no reason the law should intervene in either direction.

The language cited for this ruling sounds like it would apply not to just current or prior presidents but other citizens as well – like presidential candidates, or even private citizens. After all, if the pretense is that it’s the committee’s job to oversee the IRS than no filer may be exempt.

Committee members will now have access to all sorts of corrupt power. Inevitably returns info will be leaked – it already is even when they have to make up derogatory returns info. It will no longer be necessary to have corrupt IRS employees politicize tax collection – politicians will have the same level of access.

Trump uses a lot of hyperbole but in this case they actually are “attacking him so they can attack us”.

    Milhouse in reply to BobM. | August 10, 2022 at 9:42 am

    That has always been the law. There’s never been any question that Congress can access any individual’s tax return. The only challenge here was on the grounds that Trump was the president and this is a political fishing trip, and the answer is that of course it is but nothing in the law says Congress is not allowed to go fishing.

    gonzotx in reply to BobM. | August 10, 2022 at 10:02 am

    You think he uses hyperbole, it’s actually all true

      Danny in reply to gonzotx. | August 10, 2022 at 11:26 am

      This is an extreme enough case that there just wasn’t any room for hyperbole.

      However hyperbole is his go to unless you think this was a serious proposal

      I will

      1. Lower taxes

      2. Increase spending on everything

      3. Eliminate the deficit

      All in the same year

      I could easily come up with much more extreme examples of Trump hyperbole. If you are taking him literally……..

      Or how about this his claim he promoted and kept Mark Milley as a way to annoy James Mattis?

      If true Trump is an idiot, or it was hyperbole like almost everything else

      JohnSmith100 in reply to gonzotx. | August 11, 2022 at 9:01 am

      True tweets = mean tweets = hurt feelings.thsoe hurt feelings are hilarious.

Decisions have consequences. The next Congress is likely to see a r majority in the HoR. Then the Committee under new leadership can decide to take a look at Biden.

A compare and contrast of his time from the Senate, as VP, post VP private citizen and now as POTUS would give a much more complete answer as to how tax issues are addressed across a much wider spectrum in one person’s returns. By all means let’s proceed. Then we can look at Bill and Hillary in the Gov mansion, WH, Senate, Sec State, candidate for President and as private citizen.

Sauce for the goose.

    And, pretty soon, there are no trees left at all to hide behind. (A Man For All Seasons)

      Milhouse in reply to GWB. | August 10, 2022 at 4:39 pm

      The trees are down anyway. The only choice left is whether to acknowledge that and take advantage, or handicap yourself by pretending that they’re still standing while the opposition doesn’t.

      Of course that’s no reason to chop down even more trees. If there’s a tree still standing then by all means preserve it. If there’s some line the Dems haven’t yet crossed, for goodness sake don’t cross it. But the ones they’ve crossed are gone for good. There’s no redrawing them unless the Dems agree to entrench them in laws that they can’t change whenever it suits them.

        CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | August 10, 2022 at 6:47 pm

        Exactly. Everyone who has ever been the new kid in a new school knows the best solution to a bully whether they want to admit it or not. Kick them in the jimmy and keep kicking past the point the bully wants to play, keep kicking until you get tired and the other kids look at you with awe bordering on fear. No bully problem after that.

    taurus the judge in reply to CommoChief. | August 10, 2022 at 10:55 am

    I don’t know

    Last time we had an “R” majority, they didn’t actually do or fix anything they said they were going to prior to getting there.

    Now, if we get a MAGA majority, that may be different

      CommoChief in reply to taurus the judge. | August 10, 2022 at 11:44 am

      Yes indeed. Which is one reason I refuse to capitalise the r.

      The composition of the r caucus makes a difference in what decisions they make. More folks willing to poke the bear of ‘permanent DC’ and forego inclusion into their ranks and the very substantial incentives offered is key. Primaries matter. Average voters working their ass off to get a reform candidate as the r chosen for the general election matters.

      We don’t necessarily need an absolute majority or even a plurality to effect change. A critical mass will suffice. A core group large enough to preclude passage of legislation if their concerns are not addressed. Large enough to demand that their priorities are included and their policy preferences are always given weight and no longer ignored.

      IOW, we only need enough to force the establishment to make a binary choice to actually deliver on campaign issues/themes or see their Kabuki theater votes fail to pass. When the establishment can’t deliver Kabuki votes victories to mask their intentions they will either have to vote for legislation that in fact does what they claim or be exposed as frauds. Their choice.

        I think you should capitalize the ‘r’ when talking about the party. I consider myself a ‘republican’ but am increasingly not a ‘Republican’ as they go about trying desperately to remain forever the loyal opposition.

    gonzotx in reply to CommoChief. | August 10, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    They aren’t going to do a damn thing we all know it

      CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | August 10, 2022 at 6:39 pm

      If ‘they’ means the representative for your CD or one or even both of your Senators then you have some work to do by putting forth the effort necessary to replace them with those who will.

    Russ from Winterset in reply to CommoChief. | August 10, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    Take a look at Biden? More like “take a look at Obama, Clinton AND Carter”. Along with all their “charitable foundations”.

If he runs and wins in 2024, they’ll attempt to assassinate him.

The Revolution for Utopia is too close for them to willingly relinquish power so near to becoming complete.

I’d still like to know what legislative purpose this serves. Yes, they can issue subpoenas, for legislative purposes. Not just to go fishing.