Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has the clear authority to ask for Trump’s long sought after tax returns at any time but he is taking his time on this issue. Trump has refused to hand over his tax returns and it seems now that Democrats may not have access to them anytime before the 2020 election cycle.
While the law is clear on the matter, meaning the treasure secretary is supposed to submit any returns requested by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, what is also clear is that this particular treasure secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has pretty much stated that he will do no such thing. And then that leaves everyone in a big court battle. Something that Rep. Neal is all too aware of and something he wants to avoid for the time being.
While many expected the Dems to demand the returns immediately after gaining control of the House in the November midterm election, Neal has been careful in his approach and has taken his time, saying that he will ask for them “sometime this year”. House Speaker Pelosi has given her support of his timeline.
According to George Yin, a tax expert at the UVA School of Law, November 2020 will be an important deadline for Trump’s tax information if Democrats do decide to battle it out in court. Yin says the Dems could claim that they would like to see if President Trump has, in fact, even paid his taxes or if he has any business conflicts of interest- all things potential voters would be very much interested in.
Trump was the first major presidential candidate in decades to refuse to disclose his tax information which would include details about his various sources of income, donations and charitable giving, among other things. He is also the first president in modern history who has not divested from his business, leaving him wide open for people or organizations to try to use their connections with him, even able to offer him money, to gain influence on policy.
Trump’s former personal attorney testified in February that the president has, in fact, made some manipulations of his assets that would benefit his own wealth and that some of those would be classified as criminal acts.
Neal has said that committee lawyers are working diligently on drafts of requests and are carefully considering exactly what to ask for and what years to cover in the request. But many Dems are anxious to get the ball rolling. Rep. Bill Prascell (D-N.J.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, would like to see the process moving much faster in light of a looming presidential election and expressed his frustrations, saying:
“I think you got to forget about next year anything happening, so we got eight, nine months to go through courts, get his returns… I think the request has to go in very, very soon. I thought it would be done by now.”Rep. Bill Prascell (D-N.J.)