Top House Democrat steps up demand for Trump's tax returns

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., told the IRS that the law gives Congress a right to the six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns, and set a deadline for the agency to respond by April 23.

But in the letter, Mr Neal told IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig: "None of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee's request".

The letter leans heavily into the committee's legal rational for the returns and Neal writes that, "I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request, and the authority of the committee".

Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal sent the IRS a request for Trump tax information on April 3, citing a portion of the IRS Code giving certain committees authority to access "any return or return information".

A lawyer for President Trump likened the request to "harassment".

Trump broke with a decades-old precedent by refusing to release his returns as a presidential candidate in 2016 and continues to do so as president, saying his tax returns are under IRS audit. Neal's request for the returns of a sitting president is unprecedented, and legal experts say its success or failure may depend on a court ruling about the committee's legislative objective for seeking the documents. "People expect the rule of law to work smoothly, but that" s not always the case".

During the campaign, Trump said he wanted to release his returns but said because he was under a routine audit, "I can't".

The House Democrats' asked that the returns be turned over to the members of Congress.

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"As the letter hints, Congress has broad powers and they're acting for proper purposes and usually the mental thoughts of the legislature don't negate the validity of the inquiry, but the question here is, are they in fact pursing a legitimate objective?" he said in an interview with Law&Crime.

Neal gave the government until 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) on April 23 to hand over the tax records.

Mnuchin said the Treasury respects lawmakers' oversight duties and would make sure taxpayer protections would be "scrupulously observed, consistent with my statutory responsibilities" as the department reviews the request.

"Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request", Neal wrote.

Neal also wrote that concerns about the committee's access to the returns were "baseless".

At congressional hearings, Mnuchin accused lawmakers of seeking Trump's returns for political reasons.

He said Mr. Trump's tax returns in NY will have some of the same information found in the president's federal tax returns.

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