Although the White House believes Democrats will never get their hands on copies of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the deadline for the IRS commissioner to respond to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal’s request is rapidly approaching as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prepares to testify Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
IRS commissioner Charles Rettig has until Wednesday to provide Neal with six years of the president’s personal and business filings. When making the request, Neal pointed to a law from the 1920s that empowers three members of Congress to review the documents of any U.S. taxpayer.
A senior Democratic Ways and Means aide told ABC News on Monday that the chairman has not heard any sort of response from the IRS or Treasury Department regarding his request, but still maintained the expectation was that the IRS would comply by Wednesday.
“But,” the aide added, “we’ll see.”
Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney predicted Democrats will “never” obtain the documents, days after Trump said he was not inclined to cooperate and stressed that voters “litigated” the issue by electing Trump in 2016.
“Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns, they knew that he didn’t and they elected him anyway, which is, of course, what drives the Democrats crazy,” Mulvaney said on Fox News on Sunday. “But they know they’re not going to get this.”
An obscure 1924 provision in the tax code allows the chairmen of certain Congressional committees to privately examine anyone’s tax returns to conduct an investigation. If obtained, the returns could be released to the full House of Representatives with a majority vote from that committee, effectively making them public.
This scarcely used measure dates back to the 1920s Teapot Dome bribery scandal during President Warren G. Harding’s administration. It was invoked in the 1970s to investigate tax fraud by President Richard Nixon and again in 2014 to investigate whether the IRS discriminated against certain conservative groups.
A legal challenge is widely expected, and Neal could invoke his committee’s subpoena power to press the issue if Rettig misses Wednesday’s deadline.
Mnuchin will sit for his annual testimony at the House Financial Services Committee, where Chairwoman Maxine Waters is holding a hearing on the state of the international financial system.
Rettig testifies on Wednesday at the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the 2019 tax filing season and the 21st century IRS.
Both hearings provide Democrats with opportunities to ask about Trump’s tax returns, though the request is not the subject of either hearing.