D.C. appeals court rules IRS must turn over Trump’s tax returns to Democrat-led House committee

Democrats have been demanding access to former President Donald Trump’s confidential and private personal and business tax returns since before he was even elected, and a Democratic-run House committee even filed a lawsuit in 2019 to force the IRS to turn over the demanded information on Trump’s finances.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled unanimously in favor of the congressional committee’s authority to compel the IRS to produce a current or former president’s tax returns and related information, The Washington Times reported.

That ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court by Trump, but the Times noted that the potential short-lived and as-yet incomplete victory didn’t stop House Democrats from celebrating the favorable decision.

Democrats celebrate favorable court ruling

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which filed the lawsuit demanding Trump’s tax returns, issued a statement Tuesday and said, “With great patience, we followed the judicial process, and yet again, our position has been affirmed by the Courts.”

“I’m pleased that this long-anticipated opinion makes clear the law is on our side. When we receive the returns, we will begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program,” he added.

Joining Neal in the celebration was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said in her own statement that the ruling was “an important victory for the rule of law.”

“Access to the former president’s tax returns is crucial to upholding the public interest, our national security and our Democracy,” Pelosi added. “We look forward to the IRS complying with this ruling and delivering the requested documents so that Ways and Means can begin its oversight responsibilities of the mandatory presidential audit program.”

Court summarily rejects Trump’s oppositional arguments

According to the 33-page ruling, former President Trump’s attorneys put forward several arguments in opposition to the committee’s demands for Trump’s tax returns, namely that there was no valid legislative purpose, that it violated the separation of powers, the statute authorizing such requests was unconstitutional, that it was a form of political retaliation, and that it violated his due process rights.

However, the court rather blithely dismissed each of the arguments in turn with scant reasoning — so much so that one of the judges who nonetheless agreed with the ultimate conclusion still felt compelled to author a concurring opinion that chastised the other two judges for not giving the legitimate arguments the serious consideration they were due.

In the end, the court concluded that the committee did have a valid legislative purpose behind its demand for Trump’s tax returns — ostensibly to review and potentially alter or codify the non-statutory IRS-promulgated regulation on mandatory presidential audits.

Dangerous precedent set that could backfire on Democrats, if ruling stands

As noted, this circuit panel’s ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court, and though there are certainly no guarantees on how the high court might rule, it seems likely that Trump’s arguments would at the very least receive the serious consideration that was denied by the district and circuit courts in D.C.

That said, should this ruling ultimately stand and the Democratic-led committee eventually receives Trump’s long sought-after tax returns, Democrats should be aware that the precedent has now been set for a future Republican-led Congress to similarly demand and be provided with all relevant tax returns and associated information related to President Joe Biden, as well as former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and their family members and business associates.

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