WASHINGTON DC (NBC) – House Democrats have given the Internal Revenue Service a new deadline to hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department would miss the original deadline of April 10.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig sent Saturday by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., Democrats gave a second and final deadline of April 23 for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. The lawmakers could go to court to seek the returns if the IRS does not turn them over.
“To date, the IRS has failed to provide the requested return and return information despite an unambiguous legal obligation to do so … Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request,” Neal wrote in the letter.
The letter also states that there is “no valid basis to question the legitimacy of the Committee’s legislative purpose,” citing Supreme Court instructions that Congress’ power to investigate is “broad.”
“It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information,” Neal wrote.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took issue with Neal’s characterization of the dispute.
“These are complicated legal issues and I think it is more important to the American taxpayers that we get this right than we hit an arbitrary deadline,” Mnuchin told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “I would just emphasize this is a decision that has enormous precedence in terms of potentially weaponizing the IRS.”
Mnuchin said that Treasury Department lawyers have been working “diligently” to research the issues involved and have been in contact with Justice Department attorneys. He said he thought Neal was just picking arbitrary deadline and refused to speculate how the administration would proceed if the issue goes to court.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., notified his committee on Friday that he would be subpoenaing Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for the president’s financial statements. The subpoena is another avenue Democrats are pursuing to obtain Trump’s financial information.