Tag: trump tax returns
Topping GOP Agenda: Legislate Their Hoaxes -- And Protect The Rich

Topping GOP Agenda: Legislate Their Hoaxes -- And Protect The Rich

After a tumultuous start to the 118th Congress — which slogged to life after GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) relinquished the bulk of his powers to the extremist right of his conference in exchange for the speaker's gavel — House Republicans are finally ready to get down to business, according to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Their first order of business, the congresswoman tweeted over the weekend, is to “Repeal the 87,000 IRS Army!”

McCarthy had said pretty much the same in his victory speech as the House’s new Speaker, acquiring the gavel after 15 rounds of voting over four days, the first time in a century a Speaker failed to emerge after one ballot.

“But when we come back,” McCarthy said, as the House adjourned until 5 pm Monday, “We will repeal the funding for 87,000 IRS agents,” drawing thunderous applause from the Republican side of the aisle. “We believe government should be to help you, not go after you,” he added.

The IRS army claim is, of course, a hoax that has been debunked multiple times, according to a fact check by the New York Times. In an op-ed for Yahoo Finance, the former IRS commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, lambasted the “outright false suggestions” surrounding the IRS’s duties.

“The bottom line is this,” Rettig said, “[IRS funds] are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small business or middle-income Americans.”

He added, “Our investment is designed around a Treasury directive that audit rates do not rise relative to recent years for households making under $400,000.”

The Times noted that of the IRS’s 79,000 employees, only 8,000 peruse tax filings. 13,000 employees are customer support staff, answering phone calls, while 10,000 file mail and transcribe data.

Yet, Greene, McCarthy, and a legion of Republicans have obstinately pushed the false narrative while turning a blind eye to the House Ways and Means Committee’s bombshell report that the IRS had for two years failed to conduct a routine and compulsory audit of former President Trump’s federal tax returns while he was in the White House.

“This is only the beginning of the great things we are going to do,” Greene added in her tweet.

Indeed, recently added to the U.S. House website — and listed as “Text of Bills for the Week of Jan. 9, 2023” — was an array of performative legislation the House Republicans promised to bring to the floor, including bills to “[express] the sense of Congress condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities” and “[establish] a Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.”

The latter — led by the House Judiciary Committee, overseen by Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — is a politically-charged House GOP investigation into the law enforcement agencies Republicans once vowed to back, not backstab, unconditionally.

“We will use the power of the purse and the power of the SUBPOENA to get the job done,” tweeted the Judiciary Committee, whose new chairman, Jordan, only months ago refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation and defied a House committee’s subpoena.

Before any of the GOP’s controversial bills can grace the floor for a vote, its caucus must vote on their rules package, which has already seen some opposition within the red caucus.

Judge Rejects Trump Bid To Withhold His Tax Returns From Congress

Judge Rejects Trump Bid To Withhold His Tax Returns From Congress

By Eric Beech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A Federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a bid by former President Donald Trump to keep his tax returns from a House of Representatives committee, ruling that Congress' legislative interest outweighed any deference Trump should receive as a former president.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden said in his ruling that Trump was "wrong on the law" in seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his tax returns.

McFadden, who also said it was within the power of the committee's chairman to publish the returns if he saw fit, put his ruling on hold for 14 days, allowing time for an appeal.

Trump was the first president in 40 years not to release his tax returns as he aimed to keep secret the details of his wealth and the activities of his family company, the Trump Organization.

The committee sued in 2019 to force disclosure of the tax returns, and the dispute lingers nearly 11 months after Trump left office.

Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge told McFadden last month the committee had no legitimate reason to see the tax returns and had asked for them in the hope of uncovering information that could hurt Trump politically.

House Democrats have said they need Trump's tax returns to see if the Internal Revenue Service is properly auditing presidential returns in general and to assess whether new legislation is needed.

McFadden, a Trump appointee, said the committee would be able to accomplish its stated objective without publishing the returns.

He cautioned the panel's Democratic chairman, Representative Richard Neal, that while he has the right to do so, "anyone can see that publishing confidential tax information of a political rival is the type of move that will return to plague the inventor."

Neither the committee nor Strawbridge immediately responded to requests for comments on the ruling.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney)

Former President Trump

Trump Lawyers Make Desperate Bid To Conceal Tax Returns

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Attorneys for Donald Trump are making a last-ditch effort to prevent Congress from getting Trump's tax returns, a week after the Justice Department cleared them for release.

On Wednesday, Trump's lawyers urged a federal judge to block release of the tax returns from the Treasury Department to the House Ways and Means Committee, according to NBC News.

The lawyers argued that the committee's stated purposed of using Trump's returns in order to refine how the IRS audits presidents was just a pretext for alternative motives.

"While House Democrats had offered countless justifications for obtaining the president's tax returns, no one at the time had ever mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audits presidents," they wrote. The committee, they said, had only sought returns for one commander in chief and failed to ask the IRS for the "most relevant information—namely, how it audits presidents."

Democrats on the panel have been seeking tax returns for Trump and his businesses since 2019 and made a renewed push this year with the incoming Democratic administration.

While former Attorney General Bill Barr had inserted the Justice Department into the process in order to reject the committee's request, last week the department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) ordered Treasury to comply with the committee's request.

"We cannot know where receipt of the requested tax information will take the Committee, any more than the Committee itself can predict what it will find or determine," wrote OLC. "After reviewing and analyzing the information, it will be squarely within the Committee's responsibility to decide whether or not to include some of that information in a report to the full House that might be available to the public."

Presidents always get audited by the IRS, but the audit is supposed to be done expeditiously. Trump's perennially specious claim that he couldn't publicly release his tax returns because they were under audit was part of what motivated the House Ways and Means Committee to seek review of the audit process.

Protestors demand Trump release his tax returns.

Ruling: IRS Must Deliver Trump Tax Returns To Congressional Committee

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a new opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, officials conclude that the administration is legally obligated to hand over former President Donald Trump's taxes to Congress, as requested.

The announcement is the latest development in Democrats' years-long struggle to see Trump's tax records. He conspicuously refused to make his tax returns public during the 2016 (and 2020) presidential campaign, despite having said he would do so. Many critics believed they would provide evidence of wrongdoing, impropriety, financial failure, or even criminality. So when Democrats took control of Congress in 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee requested his records from the IRS using a statute that allows lawmakers to obtain such information.

But the Trump administration stonewalled, using highly dubious legal reasoning. Now, the Biden administration, and Attorney Merrick Garland's Justice Department in particular, has reversed that decision:

When one of the congressional tax committees requests tax information pursuant to section 6103(f)(1), and has invoked facially valid reasons for its request, the Executive Branch should conclude that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose only in exceptional circumstances. The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President's tax information. Under section 6103(f)(1), Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee.

The Trump administration had argued that Congress did not have a legitimate legislative purpose to request. But the new OLC document rejects those claims, saying that lawmakers clearly have presented facially valid reasons for requesting the returns, and that is essentially the end of the story:

The statute at issue here is unambiguous: "Upon written request" of the chairman of one of the three congressional tax committees, the Secretary "shall furnish" the requested tax information to the Committee. 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1). As the 2019 Opinion recognized, this statutory directive does not exempt the June 2021 Request from the constitutional requirement that congressional demands for information must serve a legitimate legislative purpose. 2019 Opinion at *17–19. The 2019 Opinion went astray, however, in suggesting that the Executive Branch should closely scrutinize the Committee's stated justifications for its requests in a manner that failed to accord the respect and deference due a coordinate branch of government. Id. at *24–26. The 2019 Opinion also failed to give due weight to the fact that the Committee was acting pursuant to a carefully crafted statute that reflects a judgment by the political branches, going back nearly a century, that the congressional tax committees should have special access to tax information given their roles in overseeing the national tax system. Particularly in light of this special statutory authority, Treasury should conclude that a facially valid tax committee request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose only in exceptional circumstances.

It added:

Even if some individual members of Congress hope to see information from the former President's tax returns disclosed on the public record merely "for the sake of exposure," Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2032 (2020) (internal quotation marks omitted), that would not invalidate the legitimate objectives that the Committee's receipt of the information in question could serve.

However, Trump may still have the opportunity to delay disclosure further. BuzzFeed reporter Zoe Tillman noted that Trump has a short period of time to try to intervene:

Even if the House committee obtains the tax returns, they won't immediately become public. Documents identifying particular people are supposed to be kept by the committee in closed session.