The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that Congress has the constitutional authority to request the tax returns of former President Donald J. Trump.
Since 2019, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee has attempted to gain access to Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), along with the returns from several of his businesses. While Trump was president, the Department of Treasury stated that it would not comply with the request on several legal grounds. Congress sued, and as the lawsuit made its way through court, Trump lost re-election to then-candidate Joe Biden. After Biden’s inauguration, Congress again requested Trump’s tax returns in June 2021. This time, Biden’s Treasury Department stated it would comply.
Trump’s legal team intervened to block the committee from obtaining his records. However, the U.S. District Court of D.C. dismissed Trump’s assertions, and in turn, his team appealed the case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s ruling on Tuesday.
In reaction to the decision, the Ways and Means Committee’s official account tweeted, “We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”
🚨 🚨 🚨 BREAKING: The DC Court of Appeals has just ruled that the law is on our side in seeking Trump's tax returns. We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.https://t.co/FYzFzYrxF8
— Ways & Means Committee (@WaysMeansCmte) August 9, 2022
As part of Trump’s opposition to Congress, his legal team argued that the request for his tax returns was “politically motivated.”
However, the court found that the committee “has identified a legitimate legislative purpose that it requires information to accomplish. At this stage, it is not our place to delve deeper than this. The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment.”
“Indeed, it is likely rare that an individual member of Congress would work for a legislative purpose without considering the political implications,” the court added. “The statements of individual Committee members and members who are not part of the Committee provided by the Trump Parties do not change this. The courts do not probe the motives of individual legislators. These motives are explicitly protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.”
Trump’s team also argued that the request violated “the separation of powers principle,” but the court did not agree with that objection either.
“The 2021 Request seeks information that may inform the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means as to the efficacy of the Presidential Audit Program,” the court said. “Further, the Request did not violate separation of powers principles under any of the potentially applicable tests primarily because the burden on the Executive Branch and the Trump Parties is relatively minor.”
Trump’s legal team can appeal the decision.
This is a developing story; Please check back for updates.