Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Chuck Rettig let everyone know he believed one thing before he was tapped to head the IRS: Trump should not release his tax returns.
“Is there any legal impediment to Trump publicly releasing his tax returns? Absolutely not,” Rettig wrote in a February 2016 Forbes column. “Would any experienced tax lawyer representing Trump in an IRS audit advise him to publicly release his tax returns during the audit? Absolutely not.”
Rettig goes on to argue that thanks to Trump’s likely extensive tax planning, his personal return “[i]s unlikely an accurate overall financial picture,” but rather would “only provide a brief financial overview linked to numerous other conclusions and entities.”
Rettig, who owns a condo at a Trump-branded development in Hawaii, received a letter from House Ways and Means committee chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) requesting six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, as well as IRS work product created during its handling of Trump’s returns.
That request — issued under an obscure Roaring Twenties-era law that empowers the heads of three Congressional committees to request the tax returns of any filer — has a response deadline of April 10. While the request itself was sent to Rettig, the law stipulates that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has to “furnish” Congress with the information, a task he is widely expected to refuse.
Rettig isn’t alone in his Trumpian tax ties. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner that was in place when Trump entered office, worked on a real estate deal with the current president in 1975.
But more alarming to some is the role of IRS chief counsel Michael Desmond. Trump reportedly urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to prioritize Desmond’s appointment.
Separately, Bloomberg reported that Desmond had “briefly advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before Trump took office.” Desmond also worked in private practice with Trump Org tax counsels Sheri Dillon and William Nelson.