Democrats Will Regret Compromising Taxpayer Privacy to Get Trump

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Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- It took more than three years for House Democrats to obtain Donald Trump’s federal income tax returns, which they released to the public last Friday. That effort also required setting a dangerous precedent that threatens the privacy of Democrats as well as Republicans.

Every president since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns. Trump’s defiance of that tradition provoked much criticism and invited speculation about what he might be hiding. But federal law generally protects the confidentiality of information that Americans are legally required to share with the IRS.

Democrats found a way around that obstacle by invoking a provision of the Internal Revenue Code that authorizes the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to request “any return or return information.” In April 2019, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), sought tax returns for then-President Trump and several of his businesses.

Neal said his committee was “considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President.” The Treasury Department rejected Neal’s request.

That decision was backed by the Office of Legal Counsel, which noted that “Congress could not constitutionally confer upon the Committee the right to compel the Executive Branch to disclose confidential information without a legitimate legislative purpose.” The OLC agreed with the Treasury Department that “the Committee’s asserted interest in reviewing the Internal Revenue Service’s audits of presidential returns was pretextual and that its true aim was to make the President’s tax returns public, which is not a legitimate legislative purpose.

That take is consistent with what happened last week. The committee’s investigation found that the IRS had failed to comply with a regulation requiring annual audits of the president’s returns, a lapse that inspired legislation aimed at codifying that mandate. But that “legislative purpose” did not require public disclosure of Trump’s returns without his consent.

After President Joe Biden took office and Neal reiterated his request, the OLC reversed its position. While the Treasury Department was now willing to furnish the returns, Trump continued to object.

A federal judge sided with Neal, and last August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that decision. In November, the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay, which was Trump’s last hope to keep his returns confidential.

The D.C. Circuit declined to speculate about Neal’s true motives. “The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment,” the appeals court said.

The upshot is that Neal’s successors can obtain and disclose anyone’s tax returns.

Provided they claim the information may be useful in overseeing the executive branch or writing legislation. It is not hard to imagine how Republicans, who just took control of the House, might use that power to discomfit their political opponents.

Republicans could argue that Hunter Biden’s tax returns are relevant in investigating the president’s potential “conflicts of interest,” one of the subjects that Neal mentioned in his June 2021 letter to the Treasury Department. Or they could seek tax information about Democratic political donors or left-leaning philanthropists with an eye toward legislation addressing campaign finance or charitable deductions.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), then the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, warned last week that Democrats had overturned “decades of privacy protections for average Americans” and created “a dangerous new political weapon reaching far beyond the former President.”

That concern is more than partisan posturing.

If legislators become accustomed to deploying this weapon, “that’s the end of tax privacy,” George K. Yin, an emeritus tax law professor at the University of Virginia, told The New York Times.

“Essentially no one’s tax information is really protected, as long as you cross some interest who happens to be in power at some particular point in time. Then we’re all vulnerable.”


About Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum. During two decades in journalism, he has relentlessly skewered authoritarians of the left and the right, making the case for shrinking the realm of politics and expanding the realm of individual choice. Jacobs’ work appears here at AmmoLand News through a license with Creators Syndicate.

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Roverray

I think they will find President Trump lost millions leading the country while career politicians made millions while in office. Walters, Pelosi, Schumer, The Biden’s should be terrified on what they unleashed.

Wild Bill

Yes and former politicians like Boenher. All those and more are behind the efforts to legalize marijuana. They are already invested and poised to make great fortunes.

MS-Steve

Boner“……. the ORIGINAL orange tinged politician.
I’ll bet that POS is smoking a BIG Bob Marley joint, right now.

musicman44mag

But that’s not a different form of insider trading right?

swmft

positive thing could stop the crooks in Washington from getting wealthy without jail time

Hazcat

“Democrats Will Regret Compromising Taxpayer Privacy …” No they won’t. The GOP uniparty will do nothing and if anything is found the MSM will cover for them as usual.

Deplorable Bill

Not that two wrongs will make a right but, it’s time that ALL politicians PUBLICALLY POST THEIR TAX RETURNS ALONG WITH THEIR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN. Obviously, most politicians are corrupt beyond measure but their salaries and what they have made/brought home are two different things. We should start with pelouzy, shumer, shiff and everyone else who had anything to do with the Jan 6th farce. Most if not all of these guys are corrupt and adept at hiding their income so some digging is in order. Maybe the new IRS police force, all 56, 000 of them, can visit them… Read more »

AZ Lefty

How Russian of you

ridgeview

Stop spreading false information. Grow up!

Oldvet

If it’s right for Trump its right for all of them !

gregs

you forgot to mention insider trading

Montana454Casull

This has set a precident and it’s time for all the Swamp rats to release thier taxes and earning reports for the Amerucan people to review . All the criminals insider trading will be exposed and the house and senate will have very few members left when the hammer falls .

musicman44mag

I would like an audit into off shore accounts for all of them including homes and businesses that they own in other countries.

BillyBobTexas

Seems like nearly EVERYONE, ‘D’ and ‘R’ come out of Congress a multi-millionaire many times over…….All that from a salary of $172,000. ????
Yes, ya’ wanna’ write our Laws…ya’ need to be monitored. If you don’t like that – don’t volunteer to write our Laws. Yes, we’ll lose some good people who won’t volunteer…..but hopefully we’ll keep some BAD ones out, too.

Roland T. Gunner

Send ’em home; we already have too many laws.

swmft

we need people to erase much of the bs and make people responsible for themselves

musicman44mag

Hi. BBT. Pelosi gave them a raise they make north of 200,000.00 now.

UncAl

The Republican leader of the House Ways and Means committee should have lots of work ahead when we finally investigate the “Biden Crime Syndicate Family”!

BillyBobTexas

IF, IF, IF, IF, IF he actually DOES it !

musicman44mag

absolutely. I am expecting an obiden. Well I lied to get the job just like obiden said. Oh well, that ‘s politics. That statement was a justification of action to the people and says just how corrupt and lacking of morals our congress has. Then will five people stand up and insist on his dismissal?

Oldvet

Don’t forget pokahauntus (warren?)

swmft

what steal every thing you can from the natives warren

Roland T. Gunner

This is why all rights are in fact absolute, and only rightly balanced against abuse by sanctions after the fact.

Ie: the right to keep and bear arms is absolute, and should apply to all unincarcerated adults; with penalties for abuses of murder, aggravated assault or robbery.

StLPro2A

There should be public access to every politician’s finances from the moment one files for elected/appointed office, throughout their tenure, and for 10 years thereafter leaving office.

musicman44mag

I agree. Too many people getting rich off of jobs that used to pay under 200,000.00 until pelosi gave them a raise recently.

DIYinSTL

Getting to see the taxes is different than releasing them. If releasing is legal or is a crime that is not prosecuted then I want to see the returns for Biden’s LLC that was set up to avoid paying all sorts of taxes. Presumably the pResident is double or triple dipping already with Senate and VP pensions so I’d like to see ’21 and ’22 as well – for him and Jill … and all the other members of the Biden crime family.

musicman44mag

and all off shore business and bank accounts.

Boz

lt’s a one-way street.

Oldvet

How about classified documents found in F JB’s closet , or does that not count because the fbi didn’t raid the place ?

Wild Bill

All authority to classify documents and information comes from the power of the executive branch, to wit: the president. The president has the authority to declassify any document or every document with the nod of his head or the waive of his hand. That is why there is no case against Donald Trump… and unnamed other presidents.
Friday the 13th is coming up very soon so maybe FJB will get (un)lucky.

Last edited 23 days ago by Wild Bill