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House Ways and Means Committee to meet on future of Trump's tax returns

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The House Ways and Means Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and whether to release the information to the public, the end of a years-long effort by Democrats to learn more about Trump’s financial background .

The highly anticipated meeting has been in the works for years, but comes as Democrats have just days to decide whether or not to release the former president’s tax returns. While there is historical precedent for ways and means to release confidential tax information, a decision to make it public would have intense political fallout, as Trump has already declared he is running for president in 2024.

The committee had access to Trump’s taxes for weeks after winning a lengthy legal battle that began in the spring of 2019. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal sought Trump’s first six tax years as well as the tax returns of eight of his companies. in April 2019.

Neal and his ranking member Kevin Brady had access to the information, and rank-and-file members of the committee will have begun to access and review at least some of Trump’s tax information, according to a source familiar.

It is unclear whether members would have access to all information.

Republicans on the committee are preparing to push back hard if Democrats vote to release Trump’s tax information, committee sources told CNN. The argument Republicans will make, however, will not focus on explicitly defending Trump, but rather on what the release means for politicians and ordinary people going forward.

Democrats on the committee are reportedly relying on Section 6103 of the tax code to legally release information about Trump’s taxes, but Republicans are prepared to claim that Democrats are abusing this provision, attacking a political enemy and potentially unleashing a system where even individuals could have their own information exposed if they become targets of the committee.

The committee will meet on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to vote quickly to enter a closed session. Once that meeting is underway, members and staff in the room will be able to freely discuss the information contained in Trump’s tax returns and begin their debate on how to proceed. Lawmakers may make a decision Tuesday afternoon and then move quickly to release information. It is still unclear what they will vote for, but the vote will take place publicly.

The committee will vote on what action to take, but Democrats control the committee and so can decide what to do with Trump’s tax information without any GOP support.

When Neal requested Trump’s tax information in 2019, he was not the first president to use an arcane section of the tax code known as 6013 to glean confidential tax information. The same law was used repeatedly by Ways and Means Presidents for investigations and the Joint Committee on Taxation also used the law to obtain information on former President Richard Nixon’s taxes in the 1970s.

According to the House Ways and Means Committee, this information was requested and received without a legal fight. Nixon had voluntarily released some of his statements, but JCT requested additional statements using 6103, according to a House Ways and Means Committee. memo published earlier this summer. Republicans have also used Law 6103. In 2014, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp led the committee to release confidential tax information to further the committee’s investigation into whether the IRS had unfairly targeted individuals. conservative organizations when deciding which groups to investigate.

While the New York Times obtained Decades of personal tax information from Trump in 2020, Neal’s request could shed light on additional years of Trump’s finances and paint a picture of how the former president used his business entities and personal wealth in the years before and after becoming president.

Trump broke with tradition in 2016 by refusing to release any of his personal tax returns.

Democrats have long argued that Trump’s taxes could provide the information needed to find out if the president has any entanglements that could impact his decision-making as president. Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee argued in court that they needed Trump’s tax returns to better understand the presidential audit program, which is supposed to regularly audit the returns of each new president. and vice-president when elected.

However, Neal didn’t just ask for Trump’s gross tax return. Neal also requested administrative records and documents, items that could include notes from IRS officials or audits of Trump’s statements. The information could paint a picture of the type of review the IRS has conducted on Trump in the past and whether that review changed when he became president.

If the committee votes to make the information public, it could shed light on Trump’s actual wealth, how much he gave to charity and how much he paid in taxes. The New York Times report in 2020 made it clear that Trump deferred business losses for years so he could legally avoid paying taxes for many of those years, but Ways and Means will also have access to a few more years of taxes. Trump.