Congress Executive Branch

D.C. Circuit Panel Allows House Committee to Review Trump’s Tax Returns

Matt Gluck
Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 5:28 PM

What happened now in the fight over Trump’s tax returns?

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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On Aug. 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously ruled that the House Committee on Ways and Means can review Donald Trump’s tax returns for 2015 to 2020. 

The chair of the committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), initially requested that the Internal Revenue Service provide Trump’s tax returns to the committee. The Treasury Department declined Neal’s request at the time. The committee in 2021 renewed its request for Trump’s tax returns, after he had left office. Under the new administration, the Treasury Department then approved the committee’s request, which generated a lawsuit from Trump. The D.C. District Court dismissed Trump’s lawsuit in a December 2021 memorandum opinion that Trump immediately appealed. 

In his appeal, Trump made four claims: that the committee’s request 1) lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose”; 2) that it violated the separation of powers; 3) that the statute permitting committee review was “facially unconstitutional”; and 4) that, in granting the committee with access to the records, the Treasury Department was violating Trump’s constitutional rights. The D.C. Circuit rejected these arguments. 

The panel said that 1) the committee’s request indeed had a “legitimate legislative purpose”; 2) the burden placed on Trump and the executive branch by the request, though “concrete,” is “insufficient to require us to enjoin the…[r]equest”; 3) the law in question “can be properly applied in numerous circumstances,” including this one; and 4) the Treasury Department did not violate Trump’s constitutional rights, as Trump could not prove that the department would not have chosen to comply with the committee’s request “absent a retaliatory motive.” 

Trump has up to one week to appeal the panel’s ruling. You can read the ruling here and below.

Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.

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