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Supreme Court denies Trump bid to keep tax records from House

Former president pushed for years to stop the request from the House Ways and Means Committee chairman

Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., speaks at an event in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol.
Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., speaks at an event in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for the House Ways and Means Committee to get six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the IRS, essentially ending a court battle that started in 2019.

The justices, in an unsigned order with no explanation and no noted dissents, declined a request from Trump to halt an opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that allowed Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., to get the records.

Neal made the request to the Treasury Department to access personal tax records of the former president and several of his businesses under a law that allows the committee’s chair to view any tax record.

“We knew the strength of our case, we stayed the course, followed the advice of counsel, and finally, our case has been affirmed by the highest court in the land,” Neal said in a news release that praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

The committee had told the justices that any delay in the case could prevent Neal from obtaining the records before the House flips to Republican control in January.

Trump had requested the Supreme Court step in to delay the appeals court ruling while he appealed his case to the justices, with arguments that Democrats intended to use the returns against him politically.

Neal had argued he needed the returns to assess presidential tax oversight and the ability of the IRS to reckon with a president who has business assets of Trump’s scale.

The committee has never requested the returns of a president under the law, but all presidents since Richard Nixon have released their returns publicly. Trump pledged to do so during his initial presidential campaign in 2015 but has not.

Trump blamed the secrecy on an ongoing IRS audit, however Nixon released his while under audit.

Neal first sued the Trump administration in 2019 after the Treasury Department refused to grant a request. The agency called Neal’s reasoning pretextual.

In the Biden administration, Neal reissued the request and the Treasury Department said it would comply. Then Trump intervened in court, seeking to block the release.

Earlier this year the D.C. Circuit found that Neal’s request complied with the law and judges had no ability to question the motives of committee members.

“The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment,” the D.C. Circuit panel wrote.

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