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House Ways and Means Committee Obtains Trump’s Tax Records

It’s unclear what action, if any, the committee will take in the final weeks of Democratic Party control over the House.

Former President Donald Trump greets supporters during a campaign rally at Minden-Tahoe Airport on October 8, 2022, in Minden, Nevada.

The Treasury Department has reportedly handed over six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, about a week after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain an appeal from the former president to prevent the transfer of his records.

The committee had formally requested Trump’s tax documents in 2019 and 2021. After years of legal opposition from Trump, federal courts decided this year that the committee is entitled to view the records so that members can review the IRS auditing process for presidential taxes and determine whether any changes to the process are necessary.

Trump’s lawyers had tried to argue that the Ways and Means Committee didn’t have a legitimate legal interest in obtaining the records, and that Democrats in control of the committee had merely wanted the information for political purposes. The courts rejected that notion, and last week, the Supreme Court denied an application for a stay of lower court orders compelling the Treasury to turn the documents over to the committee.

The unsigned order from the Court did not indicate which justices, if any, would have granted Trump’s request. In a Truth Social post after the Court handed down its decision, Trump claimed that no one should be “surprised that the Supreme Court has ruled against me, they always do!”

Notably, the Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, and three of the justices in the conservative bloc were appointed by Trump himself.

The records include years that Trump was president and years that he was not. The Ways and Means Committee is not expected to review the documents right away, and it’s unclear what action they will take, if any, as Republicans will likely halt any examination of Trump’s taxes when the House switches to GOP control next month.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), the current chair of the committee, would not indicate whether he would release the taxes publicly or if he has viewed them personally, citing law that forbids him from disclosing that information.

The New York Times published some of Trump’s tax documents in the fall of 2020; those records indicated that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes during his first year in office and the year before he became president, and that he paid zero in taxes for 10 of the 15 years before he entered the White House.

Trump was the first major presidential candidate in over 40 years to refuse to publish several years of tax records. In 2016, Trump promised to release the records eventually but claimed that an IRS audit currently prevented him from doing so, even though the agency stated that an audit would never prevent a candidate from voluntarily making their records public. Later on, it was revealed that Trump and his campaign advisers fabricated that excuse completely in order to avoid releasing his taxes.

Once in office, Trump claimed that the American people no longer cared about his taxes and brushed aside requests to release them. However, polling during the 2020 presidential election indicated that nearly two-thirds of voters wanted Trump to disclose his tax records.

The issue will likely play a role in the 2024 presidential election cycle, as Trump announced last month that he’s once again running for president.