House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) issued subpoenas on Friday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig for the last six years of President Trump’s business and personal tax returns.
The subpoenas were issued after previous requests by Neal for the tax returns — under an obscure law that requires the IRS to produce any taxpayer’s returns if requested by Congress — were declined by the Trump administration.
The subpoenas were the latest of several issued by the House as the fight between the White House and Dem lawmakers over Congress’ oversight authority escalates.
“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” Neal said in a statement announcing the subpoenas. “I sincerely hope that the Treasury Department will furnish the requested material in the next week so the committee can quickly begin its work.”
The subpoenas give Mnuchin and Rettig a May 17 deadline to deliver the returns.
Neal initially requested the tax documents more than a month ago and Mnuchin blew off multiple deadlines imposed by the committee. The secretary formally rejected the request in a letter earlier this week that claimed the committee lacked “a legitimate legislative purpose” in seeking the tax records.
With the subpoenas, Neal sent Mnuchin and Rettig letters pushing back on that claim and reiterating the authority the committee is asserting under the law. Neal also pointed to claims made by Trump that his taxes were under continuous audit, as well as to the “volume of his tax returns” — a reference to a 2015 Trump tweet with an image of him allegedly signing his returns.
Signing my tax return…. pic.twitter.com/XJfXeaORbU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2015
The fight over Trump’s tax returns will almost certainly be decided in court, though the timing as to how that case will unfold is not entirely clear. There are other examples of Trump administration stonewalling that appeared poised to be ultimately settled in lawsuits as well.
Already, Trump and his businesses have sued his bank and his accounting firm to try to prevent those entities from cooperating with congressional subpoenas.