The Hunt for the Missing Tax Returns

Close up view of the income tax return

How badly do you want to see Trump’s tax returns? As badly as he wants to hide them from you?

Tough call, I know.

But here we are. The only Democrat with the power to request the president’s taxes has now done so. Chairman Richard Neal, of the Ways and Means Committee, has officially requested the last 6 years of Trump’s personal tax returns and those of 8 of his business entities. The request went to the IRS (not Trump directly) and they have until April 10 to comply.

We knew early on that Neal was working behind the scenes to make the request as legally air-tight as possible. We now know a bit more about his strategy. Essentially, he is making the case that it is insufficient that the practice of reviewing the tax returns of the President is only enshrined in IRS policy and not federal law.

“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal wrote in a letter to the IRS. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”

Neal wants to make this about policy, not politics. The Republicans will howl anyway that this is a political stunt, but there is nothing about the way that Neal has prepared for this moment that says this is a stunt.

Here’s the official letter that Chairman Neal sent to the IRS:

Hilariously, Trump was asked by the press about the request for the tax returns, and after repeating his tired line about being under audit, he said he was “not inclined” to give up his tax returns. Well that’s the thing, Mr. President. Congress didn’t ask you. They’re asking the IRS directly.

This request will undoubtably unleash a torrent of resistance from the White House. We know they’ve been preparing legal strategies, and that there appears to be nothing more important to Trump than protecting his returns from public view. I expect this will be a major fight. Buckle up, folks.

For those of you who’d like a deeper look, here’s a terrific article at CNN that walks through the twists and turns of getting to this point:  Key House Democrat requests Trump’s tax returns from IRS

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