U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Northern Virginia and Falls Church, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, issued the following statement today after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Donald Trump’s request to block the release of his tax returns to the Committee:
“The courts have again affirmed the principle that Donald Trump is not above the law. Trump fought with every tool at his disposal to prevent the lawful disclosure to Congress of information he once promised to make public, but the law was clearly against him.
“For over three years the Ways and Means Committee has pursued this avenue of legitimate oversight to inform important legislative action. That work remains before us. Given the long delays and the necessity those delays have created for congressional action on a short time timetable, the Treasury Department and the IRS must comply with court rulings and with the law and furnish the tax information requested by Chairman Neal with all possible haste.”
“I commend Chairman Neal, Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Pascrell, and our other colleagues and staff for their dogged persistence in this important matter. Our legal and constitutional authorities were always clear, and though this moment was long delayed, I did not doubt we would win this case – but I am still very happy with the victory.”
The Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means is empowered to request and receive individual tax information from the IRS by section 6103 of the U.S. tax code (subsection f, p. 3163). The law states [(f)(1)] that “the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request,” and further specifies [(f)(4)] that the Ways and Means Chair “acting directly, or by or through such examiners or agents as the chairman of such committee… may designate or appoint, to inspect returns and return information at such time and in such manner as may be determined by such chairman.”
Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal initially requested the individual tax returns of Donald Trump for the years 2013-2018, along with tax returns filed by other Trump LLC’s, trusts, and corporate entities for the same years, on April 3, 2019.
Congress created the section 6103 authority a century ago in response to the Teapot Dome bribery scandal, which led to the investigation and ultimate imprisonment of a member of the presidential cabinet. The authority was used during Watergate as the basis for “various requests to the IRS for confidential taxpayer information of President Nixon and others” in 1973 and 1974.
The Congressional Research Service issued a report in 2019 on “Congressional Access to the President’s Federal Tax Returns.” That report examines aspects of section 6103 authorities including, “Congressional Committee Authority to Obtain Tax Returns,” “Legislative Purpose,” “Privacy Rights,” and “Further Disclosure of Tax Return Information Received by a Tax Committee.”
The House Committee on Ways and Means, on which Beyer serves, has jurisdiction over tax policy, the Department of Treasury, and the IRS. Beyer cosponsored and voted for the House-passed H.R. 1, which would require the disclosure of tax return information by major party nominees for President and Vice President.