A 1924 law will be dusted off in January when Democrats take over the House so that they can get a peek at President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, who will be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that he will file a formal demand under the 1924 law that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin provide Trump’s returns.
The law says that the secretary must furnish any return requested for the private review by the chairs of the House and Senate tax committees.
Getting them through a law that requires them to stay private is only step one, NBC reported. Citing sources it did not name, NBC said the end game is to make Trump’s returns public through a closed-door committee vote.
In an interview with the Amherst Wire, Neal said he would ask before demanding.
“One of the things that I’m going to try to convince him of is voluntarily relinquishing the documents. If you get into a shouting match, he is less likely to relinquish the documents. So we’re going to try, in this case, to convince him to do it, but at the same time prepare the legal case for asking for the documents,” he said.
Neal said the alternative is going to court.
“I assume that it is going to be a court case that will go on for a considerable amount of time, based on the positions that the president has taken as it relates to these tax forms,” he said.
Neal showed little patience with Trump’s explanations of why he did not release his taxes.
“If you remember during the course of the campaign, he said that he was going to release them, then he said he couldn’t because he was under audit. Then, he said that he would release them upon becoming president, but again said he can’t because he’s under audit,” he said.
In its reporting on the possibility of Trump’s taxes being made public, Vanity Fair cited University of Virginia law professor George Yin, who said that any such request could be very complicated because the law has been used so little.
“All of this is subject to uncertainty because the law is very limited on this authority,” he said.
The law has “been rarely used, and the times that it has been used, as far as I know, there has never been any controversy about compliance. (If) a request was made, that request is fulfilled,” Yin said.
But now? Things could change, he said.
“And so in our current situation people are imagining the exercise of the authority and what happens if the secretary of the Treasury refuses,” he explained.
Yin also noted that Mnuchin is not bound by a time limit in which to respond, which could render the entire exercise moot.
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