Supreme Court approves delivery of Trump’s tax returns to Congress


Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for the impending release of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee after a three-year legal battle.

  • Supreme Court approves delivery of Trump's tax returns to Congress

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The court, with no dissent noted, rejected Trump’s plea for an order that would have prevented the Treasury Department from giving six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses to the House Ways and Means Committee controlled by the Democrats.

Alone among recent presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns during his successful 2016 campaign or his four years in the White House, citing what he said was an ongoing audit by the IRS. Last week, Trump announced he would run again in 2024.

It was the former president’s second Supreme Court defeat in as many months, and his third this year. In October, the court declined to intervene in the legal battle surrounding the FBI’s search of Trump’s estate in Florida that revealed classified documents.

In January, the court refused to block the National Archives from turning over documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Judge Clarence Thomas was the only one to vote for Trump.

In the dispute over his tax returns, the Treasury Department had refused to provide the documents during Trump’s presidency. But the Biden administration has said federal law is clear that the committee has the right to review any taxpayer’s return, including the president’s.

Lower courts agreed the committee had broad power to obtain tax returns and rejected Trump’s claims that he was overstepping and only wanted the documents so they could be made public.

Chief Justice John Roberts imposed a temporary freeze Nov. 1 to allow the court to weigh legal issues raised by Trump’s lawyers and counterarguments from the administration and the House of Representatives.

Just over three weeks later, the court lifted Roberts’ order without comment.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the committee until the next Congress begins in January, said in a statement that his committee “will now conduct the oversight we have sought for three and a half years.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The House argued that an order preventing the IRS from providing tax returns would leave lawmakers “little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is rapidly coming to a close.”

If Trump had persuaded the nation’s highest court to intervene, he might have run out of time on the committee, with Republicans set to take control of the House in January. They almost certainly would have dropped the registration request if the issue had not been resolved by then.

The House Ways and Means panel first requested Trump’s 2019 tax returns as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and the former’s compliance with tax laws. President. A federal law states that the Internal Revenue Service “provides” any taxpayer’s returns to a handful of high-level lawmakers.

The Justice Department under the Trump administration had defended then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to withhold congressional tax returns. Mnuchin argued he could withhold the documents because he concluded they were wanted by Democrats for partisan reasons. A trial ensued.

After President Joe Biden took office, the committee renewed the request, requesting Trump’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. The White House found the request to be valid and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. Trump then tried to stop the transfer in court.

Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of a criminal investigation. That case also went to the Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s argument that he had broad immunity as president.

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