U.S. House committee set to discuss Trump tax returns on Tuesday

The United States House of Representatives committee will meet Tuesday to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which was obtained last month following a lengthy court fight, according to a source familiar with the matter. 

The House Ways and Means Committee, which is Democrat controlled, are set to meet in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, only two weeks before the GOP assumes majority control in the House, which was won narrowly in November’s midterm elections. 

Democrats are left with little time to decide what, if anything, they decide to do with former President Trump’s returns before they lose the power to set the agenda for the committee.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the committee last month. It formally announced it would be meeting Tuesday in relation to “documents protected under the Internal Revenue Code” without specifically mentioning Trump.

The Ways and Means Democrats have said they need to see the former president’s tax records to assess whether the Internal Revenue Service is properly auditing presidential tax returns and gauge if new legislation is needed.

Questions still remain over what the committee will choose to do with Trump’s tax return documents after control passes to the GOP in January. However, the documents are still subject to restrictions from the federal government. Democratic lawmakers may make some details public, possibly after a vote from the House. 

The committee gained access to six years’ worth of former President Trump’s tax returns in November after a years-long court fight for the documents. The legal wrangling went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected a plea by Trump to block the release of his tax documents to House Democrats in a short order handed down before Thanksgiving. 

A committee spokesperson said that Democrat Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts “will provide and update to Committee members as we approach the end of the 117th Congress.”

Since tax return documents are considered confidential under federal law, there are exception if the Chair of the House Ways and Means committee requests them. Neal requested them in April 2019 and asked the Treasury Department to turn over Trump’s returns and the tax returns of related business entities so the committee can determine whether tax laws involving presidents should be amended. 

The Treasury Department wouldn’t comply, saying Neal didn’t have a valid reason for seeking the tax returns. The committee then filed suit to get hold of the documents. Attorneys for Trump argued in court filings last year because of what it said was the panel’s bogus rationale for seeking them. 

“No one believes that Chairman Neal requested President Trump’s tax returns so he can study legislation about IRS audits. No one,” contended Trump’s lawyers. 

Earlier this month, when asked if he plans to make the documents available to the public, Neal said, “It’s too early to say.”