On Thursday, a federal appeals court will hear arguments on whether a congressional committee can receive former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department, in the latest round of a three-year legal battle. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear an oral argument on whether the House Ways and Means Committee can acquire the former president’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service, which is part of the Treasury Department, at 0930 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). If the committee wins, Trump’s financial activities might be made public before of the 2024 presidential race.
Trump is challenging a December 2021 judgment by a lower court that decided the Democratic-led committee chairman had the extensive authority to request the tax returns of a previous president. Trump was the first president in 40 years to refuse to reveal his tax returns, ostensibly to preserve the facts of his fortune and the activities of his family business, the Trump Organization, a secret. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority under federal law to seek anyone’s tax returns from the IRS. Invoking that statute, the committee filed a lawsuit in 2019 to compel Trump’s tax returns to be made public.
House Democrats have stated that they require Trump’s tax returns in order to determine if the Internal Revenue Service is appropriately auditing presidential returns and whether new legislation is required. That argument has been branded “pretextual” and “disingenuous” by Trump’s lawyers, who claim the real goal is to find politically damaging information about Trump. The US Justice Department produced a legal memo backing Trump’s views in 2019, while he was still in office. The Justice Department subsequently reversed course in July 2021, after Trump lost his reelection bid, saying the House committee had provided “sufficient justification” for seeing the tax returns. Trump filed counterclaims against the Ways and Means Body in response to the Justice Department memo, seeking a judicial judgment that the committee had exceeded its constitutional powers.
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In December, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sided with Congress. Trump was “wrong on the law” in attempting to prevent the Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his tax returns, according to McFadden.Last year, the United States Supreme Court allowed a Manhattan prosecutor to get Trump’s tax returns from his accounting company, but that decision had no bearing on the Ways and Means Committee’s case.