A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled in favor of the House Ways and Means Committee’s request to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. The ruling was 3-0 from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals
The court wrote: “The Chairman of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means filed a statutory request for documents from the Department of the Treasury related to then-President Donald J. Trump and related entities.
“Treasury initially objected to the request, and the Committee filed this lawsuit. After a change of administrations, Treasury acquiesced, stating that it intended to comply with the request. In the meantime, the Trump Parties intervened in the action. The district court ruled in favor of the Committee. Intervenors appeal. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
“As a general rule, Title 26, Section 6103 of the United States Code makes tax returns and return information confidential unless their release is authorized by an exception enumerated in that same section.
“26 U.S.C. § 6103(a). Section 6103 includes a number of exceptions to the general rule of confidentiality but only one is at issue here. Section 6103(f)(1)provides that [u]pon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.
“At bottom, this case simmers down to the constitutionality and application of § 6103(f)(1). Operating separately from § 6103(f)(1), IRS regulations give the President’s tax returns special consideration.
While IRS audits are often random, the IRS has required the audit of the sitting President’s tax returns since 1977.
“This Presidential Audit Program is a creature of IRS regulations and is not required or governed by statute.”
“Against both the Committee and Treasury, the Trump Parties asserted that the Request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose and violates the separation of powers.
“Against Treasury, the Trump Parties alleged that § 6103(f)(1) is facially unconstitutional and that compliance with the Request would be a violation of the First Amendment.
“In this case, the need for the Trump Parties’ information to inform potential legislation overrides the burden to the Executive Branch largely because that burden is so tenuous,” the court said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Tuesday that House lawmakers can get former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.
“We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately,” the House Ways and Means Committee said in a tweet. Trump, who has argued for years against releasing his returns, could still appeal.
The ruling comes a day after news that the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence.