House Committee Takes Step Toward Potential Release of Trump’s Tax Data
WASHINGTON — A House committee is expected to vote on Tuesday on whether to make public six years of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax records, in what would be a significant act of transparency in the waning days of Democratic control of the House.
The Ways and Means Committee gave notice on Friday that it would meet behind closed doors at 3 p.m. on Tuesday for what is expected to be a vote on whether to release some data from Mr. Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020, including the possibility of sharing the filings. The panel obtained the information from the Treasury Department last month.
Such a vote, which Republicans are likely to oppose, would be the culmination of a nearly four-year battle stemming from Mr. Trump’s decision to break with modern precedent and refuse to disclose his personal financial information as a presidential candidate and then as a sitting president.
For now, lawmakers remain constrained by law about what they can say about the matter. Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, who as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee requested Mr. Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department, said it concerned “documents protected under Internal Revenue Code Section 6103.”
That referred to the law that empowered Mr. Neal to obtain the returns.
“Nearly four years ago, the Ways and Means Committee set out to fulfill our legislative and oversight responsibilities, and evaluate the Internal Revenue Service’s mandatory audit program,” Mr. Neal said in a separate statement. “As affirmed by the Supreme Court, the law was on our side, and on Tuesday, I will update the members of the committee.”
What to Know About Donald Trump Today
Donald J. Trump is running for president again, being investigated by a special counsel again and he’s back on Twitter. Here’s what to know about some of the latest developments involving the former president:
Documents investigation. A team hired by Mr. Trump found at least two items with classified markings at a Florida storage site, a person familiar with the matter said. The discovery came as searches were conducted after a judge directed Mr. Trump’s lawyers to look for classified materials.
Georgia Senate runoff. The defeat of Herschel Walker — the former football star and Mr. Trump’s handpicked candidate — left Republicans reckoning with questions about their path forward and trading blame for their bruising losses. Much of it landed on Mr. Trump.
Trump Organization trial. Mr. Trump’s family business was convicted of tax fraud and other financial crimes by a Manhattan jury. The guilty verdict was a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its “culture of fraud and deception.”
“Termination” of the Constitution. In an extraordinary antidemocratic statement, Mr. Trump suggested the “termination” of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election. The explicit suggestion drew a degree of bipartisan condemnation, but many Republicans were silent.
Embracing extremism. Mr. Trump has been embracing extremist elements in American society even more unabashedly than in the past, including hosting a dinner for Kanye West, a rap star under fire for antisemitic statements, and Nick Fuentes, a prominent white supremacist.
Lawyers for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is not clear whether the release of the records would reveal major findings. Prosecutors in New York had already obtained access to some Trump-related tax data, and his family business has been the subject of multiple investigations. The Trump Organization was convicted of a tax fraud scheme this month. The New York State attorney general has sued Mr. Trump and three of his children, accusing them of lying to lenders and insurers by fraudulently overvaluing his assets.
The New York Times has also investigated Mr. Trump’s taxes, including obtaining tax-return data in 2020 that covered more than two decades. He paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined; he also reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that, as of 2020, was the subject of an I.R.S. audit.
Still, the returns the committee has obtained contain more recent data.
The statute known as Section 6103 gives the Ways and Means Committee the authority to request that the I.R.S. turn over any taxpayer’s returns. By law, the committee generally must keep that information confidential, but if the panel votes to report the information to the full House, it would become lawful to make it public, too.
Mr. Neal first sought Mr. Trump’s tax returns in 2019, after Democrats took over the House in the 2018 midterm elections and began trying to perform oversight of the Trump administration.
The Ways and Means Committee said it needed the records to assess an I.R.S. program that audits presidents. Mr. Trump’s lawyers said that was a pretext for a politically motivated fishing expedition, accusing the panel of lacking any legitimate legislative purpose.
Mr. Trump had vowed to stonewall all Democratic subpoenas, and his administration instructed the I.R.S., part of the Treasury Department, not to comply with the request. Once the committee filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce its request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers promised to fight it “tooth and nail.”
The case was assigned to a Trump appointee, Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, who did not make any ruling for several years, enabling Mr. Trump to run out the clock before the 2020 election.
After the Biden administration took office, the Justice Department said that Congress had a legal right to the information it was seeking. At the end of 2021, Judge McFadden finally ruled, agreeing that the law was on the side of the Ways and Means Committee but warning that he believed it would be a bad idea to make Mr. Trump’s returns public.
An appeals court upheld Judge McFadden’s decision. Last month, the Supreme Court declined Mr. Trump’s request that it temporarily block the Treasury Department from turning over the material while he litigated an appeal before it.
Lawmakers have rarely sought to make public confidential taxpayer information, but there are some precedents. In 1974, a tax committee released a bipartisan staff report describing and analyzing President Richard M. Nixon’s tax returns based on data it had requested under an earlier version of Section 6103.
And in a party-line vote in 2014, House Republicans led by the chairman of the Ways and Committee, Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan, released confidential tax information in urging the Justice Department to investigate their allegations that an I.R.S. official had discriminated against conservative groups in deciding which organizations to scrutinize.
The I.R.S. had used names associated with conservative views, like tea party, in deciding which nonprofits to examine to see if they qualified as an apolitical charity that could receive tax-deductible donations. But an inspector general’s investigation later determined that it had also used names associated with liberal views, like progressive and occupy.