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House Committee Can Get Trump Tax Returns, Supreme Court Rules

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Nov 23, 2022

After a years-long legal battle, the U.S. House of Representatives will get to review six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered, denying the former president’s appeal to block their release, The New York Times reported.

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that the committee would “now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years.” The Committee had been seeking the returns, which Trump did not make public in a break with tradition honored by past presidents, as part of an investigation into his financial dealings.

When Democrats reclaimed the House majority in 2019, Neal asked the Treasury Department for the returns, invoking a law that gives the Ways and Means Committee the authority to see any taxpayer’s documents. When the request was rebuffed by the administration, the legal challenges then ensued.

The case was assigned to Federal District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden, who heard the case in July 2019 but did not decide on it until December 2021. He ruled that the committee had a legal right to obtain the records, which the former president appealed. A panel of the D.C. Circuit Court upheld the decision in August, prompting Trump to ask the full circuit court to rehear the case. It declined to do so in October, leading Trump to make his request to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., acting in his capacity as the overseer of appeals that come out of the D.C. Circuit, then ordered lawyers for the House Ways and Means Committee to respond to the latest move by Trump’s lawyers by Nov. 10.

The House’s chief lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, wrote in his brief that any further delay “would leave the committee and Congress as a whole little or no time to complete their legislative work.”

Neal did not say whether the committee would publish the returns or release them publicly in any form. Former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Times that, because of previous reporting about the returns—including an investigative report by the Times in 2020—whatever Neal chose to do, “It’s not clear to me what you’re going to learn that you don’t already know when you look at these returns.”

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