IRS Head Won’t Say Whether Mnuchin Will Make Final Call On Trump’s Taxes

UNITED STATES - APRIL 9: IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, left, talks with Chairman Mike Quigley, D-Ill., during a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing in Rayburn Building on the IRS's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig on Tuesday was tight-lipped regarding behind-the scenes discussions he’d had with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) last week requested six years of Trump’s and some of his businesses’ tax returns, and gave Rettig (above, left) a deadline of April 10, Wednesday, to return the documents.

“We expect to respond,” Rettig said of the request during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Tuesday.

But Rettig seemed reluctant to discuss whether Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin might assert ultimate authority over whether Trump’s taxes are released.

“We are a bureau of the United States Treasury, and we are supervised by the Treasury,” he told subcommittee Chair Mike Quigley (D-IL) (above, right) at one point, asked who would make the final call.

“The decision is mine,” Rettig said later, “with the supervision of Treasury.” He wouldn’t elaborate.

“How will you respond?” Quigley asked.

“We’re working on it,” Rettig, who owns property at a Trump-branded project, replied.

During a hearing earlier in the day on Tuesday, Mnuchin told Quigley “it is our intent to follow the law,” adding, “it is my responsibility to supervise the [IRS] commissioner.”

During his hearing, Rettig said that he and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had discussed the congressional request for Trump’s taxes, which was sent to Rettig.

He also denied that Mnuchin had instructed him how to respond. But, asked by Quigley if Mnuchin had said whether “he was going to make the decision,” Rettig did not give a response.

“There was a discussion about, um — and that’s what I’m saying, [that] we’re working on it. There was a discussion about who’s going to handle the response.”

“There’s no conclusion on that,” he said.

Quigley eventually zeroed in on Rettig’s legal authority: “Is it your understanding that you have discretion under this sort of a request, under the law? That you can decide whether or not to comply with requests under 6103 of the tax code?”

“I think it’d be inappropriate for me to identify what the understanding is with respect to that,” Rettig responded, refusing to go further.

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