U.S. Supreme Court clears way for lawmakers to get Trump's tax returns
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[November 23, 2022]
By Andrew Chung
(Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the release of
Donald Trump's tax returns to a House of Representatives committee,
handing a defeat to the Republican former president who had called the
Democratic-led panel's request politically motivated.
The justices denied Trump's Oct. 31 emergency application to block a
lower court's ruling that upheld the Ways and Means Committee's request
for his tax records as a justified part of the panel's legislative work.
No justice publicly dissented from the decision.
The committee, which has sought six years of Trump's tax records
spanning 2015 to 2020, will have little time to complete its work
related to the returns before a Republican takeover of the House.
Republicans secured a narrow majority following the Nov. 8 midterm
elections and take control of the House - and the committee - in
The fight over his tax returns is one of many legal woes for Trump as he
moves forward with another run for the presidency in 2024. Trump last
week announced the launch of his candidacy.
Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said the Supreme Court's action
upholds the principle of congressional oversight.
"This rises above politics, and the committee will now conduct the
oversight that we've sought for the last three and a half years," Neal
said in a statement.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Trump was the first president in four decades years not to release his
tax returns as he sought to keep secret the details of his wealth and
the activities of his real estate company, the Trump Organization.
The Ways and Means panel had told the Supreme Court in a legal filing
that siding with Trump would harm the constitutional authority of a
co-equal branch of government "by in effect preventing Congress from
completing any investigation involving a former president whenever there
are allegations that the investigation was politically motivated."
The panel in its request invoked a federal law that empowers its
chairman to request any person's tax returns from the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS). House Democrats have said they need to see Trump's tax
returns to assess whether the IRS is properly auditing presidential
returns and to gauge whether new legislation is needed.
In its filing, the committee told the justices that IRS policy "does not
address what to do regarding a president who, like former President
Trump, owned hundreds of business entities, had inordinately complex
returns, used aggressive tax avoidance strategies and allegedly had
[to top of second column]
Former U.S. President Donald Trump
approaches the podium to announce that he will once again run for
U.S. president in the 2024 U.S. presidential election during an
event at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. November
15, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Trump's lawyers have said the committee's real aim was to publicly
expose his tax returns and unearth politically damaging information
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, sided with
Congress in December 2021 and threw out the challenge to the
committee's request, finding that the committee holds broad
authority over a former president's tax returns.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in
August also ruled against Trump and in October refused a rehearing.
Tuesday's order superseded one issued by Chief Justice John Roberts
on Nov. 1 that had effectively paused the dispute and prevented the
panel from obtaining the Trump returns while the court considered
how to proceed.
Trump has mounting legal worries.
His real estate company is in the midst of a criminal trial in New
York on tax fraud charges. On Tuesday, Donald Bender, a former
outside accountant for the company who also prepared Trump's
personal tax returns, told jurors that Trump reported net operating
losses every year from 2011 to 2018. Trump also reported losses of
$700 million in 2009 and $200 million in 2010, Bender testified.
The New York Times reported in 2020 that years of reporting heavy
losses from Trump's business enterprise helped him offset hundreds
of millions of dollars in income.
In addition, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland last week named a
special counsel to oversee two investigations including a criminal
probe related to the FBI's seizure of government documents from
Trump's Florida home.
A trial date for next year was set in a civil lawsuit by New York
state's attorney general accusing Trump and three of his adult
children of fraudulently overvaluing the company's assets and his
net worth. An investigation in Georgia also is examining whether
Trump interfered with the 2020 election results in that state.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Luc
Cohen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)
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