Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied a request from House Democrats for access to six years of President Donald Trump's tax returns in a letter sent to the House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) on Monday.
Mnuchin said he was denying the committee's request because it lacked a "legitimate legislative purpose." The Treasury Secretary decided not to release the returns after consulting with the Justice Department, the letter states.
"As you have recognized, the Committee's request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers," the letter states. "In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, and pursuant to section 6103, the Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information."
Neal issued a response to the Treasury Secretary's letter on Monday, writing that he would be consulting with lawyers to determine the committee's next steps.
"Today, Secretary Mnuchin notified me that the IRS will not provide the documents I requested under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code," Neal said. "I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response."
The 1920s-era law known as Section 6103 allows three people on Capitol Hill - the Senate Finance Committee chairman, the head of the Joint Committee on Taxation and the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee - to subpoena the tax return information of any individual for "legislative purposes." The law was written in response to the Teapot Dome Scandal, a bribery scandal that enveloped President Warren G. Harding's administration between 1921 and 1923.
Trump has repeatedly asserted he would not release his taxes while he was under audit. Previous presidents, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both released their returns during their time in office.
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