Republicans join push for Trump tax returns release

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Two House Republicans joined Democrats in urging House and Senate committees with authority over the Internal Revenue Service to request copies of President Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department.

Republicans Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Walter Jones of North Carolina signed a letter to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee soliciting the action.

Democrat representative Bill Pascrell spearheaded the letter which was signed by most of the 193-member House Democratic Caucus. The letter asserts that knowledge of the contents of Trump’s tax returns would allow Congress to determine if there are further questions regarding the president’s business ties or other conflicts of interest.

After becoming the Republican nominee for president, Trump bucked four decades of precedent by choosing not to release his tax returns, asserting that they were under audit. The IRS has stated that the tax information could be released, nonetheless.

“Disclosure would serve the public interest of clarifying President Trump’s conflicts of interest in office, the potential for him to personally benefit from tax reform, and ensure that he is not receiving any preferential treatment from the IRS,” the letter states.

“We believe the powerful and respected Committees on Finance and Ways and Means have the responsibility to ensure oversight of the executive branch by requesting a review of President Trump’s tax returns and moving toward a formal release of these documents to the public.”

Recently, Pascrell pushed the issue by forcing a House vote on a resolution requesting Trump’s tax returns from the last ten years. The measure failed on a party-line vote, with Sanford and Jones both voting “present.”

Sanford is not new to the fight. He has previously championed the idea of Trump releasing his tax returns, including in a New York Times op-ed last year.

Pascrell’s resolution sought to have the House request Trump’s tax returns and allow review of them by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session. Subsequently, the panel would vote whether to send the tax return information to the full House.

Three committees have the power to request individual tax returns from the Treasury Department — the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

But the chairmen of those committees have not supported the move to request Trump’s tax returns.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, rejected such a request from Democrats.

Republican Kevin Brady of Texas has cited privacy concerns in his defense of not setting a precedent by requesting Trump’s tax returns.

“My belief is that if Congress begins to use its powers to rummage around in the tax returns of a president, what prevents Congress from doing the same to average Americans,” Brady said in February.

H/T: The Hill

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