TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Grewal: The President's Tax Returns

Trump Tax ReturnsAndy Grewal (Iowa), The President's Tax Returns:

This Article examines whether congressional committees enjoy the unrestricted authority to demand a President’s tax returns. It concludes that they do not. Though a federal statute seemingly compels the IRS to furnish, on request, anyone’s tax returns to some congressional committees, a statute cannot transcend the constitutional limits on Congress’s investigative authority. Congress enjoys a near-automatic right to review a President’s tax returns only in the impeachment context.

After analyzing the general constitutional principles, the Article briefly examines the House Ways & Means Committee’s disputed request for President Trump’s tax return information.

That controversy remains ongoing, and subsequent events may affect the legitimacy of any congressional request for that information. However, the Article expresses doubt that the Committee’s request satisfies the relevant constitutional standard.

Robert W. Wood (Forbes), Why Trump Should Not Hand Over His Tax Returns

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/05/grewal-the-presidents-tax-returns.html

Scholarship, Tax | Permalink

Comments

Having worked for the IRS, I find it hypocritical to exam IRS employee's returns but we do not exam Congress and the President's return. It should be a law that Congress and the President should have their returns audited for 3 years prior to service and during service. In addition, Agents must get rid of stock of a company they work on. The same should be true of Congress and the President. Where is the transparency?

Posted by: Sid | May 7, 2019 2:12:09 PM

Having worked for IRS Chief Counsel, it pains me to have to remind people that this President is examined every year, like clockwork. Stop watching CNN and MSNBC.

Posted by: Anon | May 7, 2019 9:24:41 PM

Re applying to Congress and the President the same rules as for the hired help: Congress, with some in involvement of the President, makes the rules. What incentive does Congress have to make the lives of its members more difficult? The voters don't seem to care enough.

Posted by: Pettifogger | May 8, 2019 6:58:44 AM

Democrats are attempting to assert their political agenda as replacement for the Constitution's clearly articulated requirements for the OPOTUS. There is no doubt that DJT is a USA citizen from birth, so they latch on to the next best thing. Defeat them.

Posted by: Juba Doobai | May 8, 2019 7:06:46 AM

Sid, I understand your frustration. But consider this, your returns get a desk audit every year. They stay inside the IRS. The Dem leaders in Congress want the president's returns so they can cherry pick details that sound bad and make them public. They have no indication that the president did anything wrong; they want to use his returns for political purposes. I think this is not a valid legislative act.

Posted by: Hugh | May 8, 2019 7:07:53 AM

The ignorant want the tax returns of a very rich person that has put that life on hold to make America great again. The smart person would want to see the tax returns of a decades long elected official that has become rich on a legislators salary.

Posted by: Stan B | May 8, 2019 7:50:59 AM

I agree with Sid.

Posted by: Jim | May 8, 2019 9:42:46 AM

The same law gives the same authority to the President. I don't think that members of Congress will like it when Trump does the same thing to them. This is another Dem torpedo, launched at Trump and circling back on them.

Posted by: Prospector | May 8, 2019 10:20:41 AM

Hmmm
The author’s use of a strawman argument with his introduction of a fictious demand by Congress to have “unrestricted authority” over tax returns as the basis for dismissal of the clearly delineated statutory authority granted Congress which unquestionably does allow them view the President’s tax returns isn’t just a logical fallacy, it is of course patently dishonest. Or as my 5-year-old granddaughter likes to say; liar liar, pants on fire!

So just to recap; Congress is not “demanding unrestricted authority” over tax returns. They are merely exercising the power granted them by law to view Trumps returns in closed session. Just as an aside, as every politician knows when it comes to things like personal accountability, perception is 9/10’s of reality. And the “perception” people have, at least in my political circles (right of center) is that Trump appears to have something to hide from the Congress.

Posted by: DDearborn | May 8, 2019 5:19:38 PM

House Democrats don't need to request Trump's tax returns. After all, persons unknown have been leaking them to the press, and committing felonies in the process. And New York State is gutting it's tax return confidentialty law to allow House Democrats to get those, too.

This isn't a legal issue, as the laws are being cut down and violated anyway.

Posted by: MM | May 8, 2019 7:17:47 PM

Hugh says that Democrats "have no indication that the president did anything wrong." Forgive me; they have dozens of indications that the president did dozens of things wrong. Indication No. 1: after numerous promises to make his tax returns public, he's making every effort to conceal them.

Posted by: Gerald Scorse | May 9, 2019 6:23:32 AM

Gerald: "Indication No. 1: After numerous promises to make his tax returns public, he's making every effort to conceal them."

Changing his mind about releasing his personal and business returns and asserting the same confidentiality protections every taxpayer is entitled to by law isn't an indication the President has done anything wrong.

Next indication?

Posted by: MM | May 9, 2019 1:49:47 PM

If the democrats have "dozens of indications that the president did dozens of things wrong" then why don't they bring them out for all to see? One person said they have "bags full of evidence" against Trump. So why don't they reveal all that evidence? I believe it is a crime to withhold evidence in an investigation, especially one of this magnitude. I personally believe the democrats have bags full of cr-p and all of it is of their own making. Just my thoughts. The democrats either need to reveal all their evidence now or be prosecuted for withholding it. Or maybe they should just sit down and shut up!

Posted by: Molly B | May 9, 2019 7:17:32 PM

Dear MM and Molly B: I guess you haven't been reading what's easily available: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/5/10/18537282/trump-tax-returns-congress-irs This, of course, is only one of dozens of similar stories.

Posted by: Gerald Scorse | May 10, 2019 7:13:03 AM

MM & Molly B: This too: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/opinion/trump-tax-returns.html

Posted by: Gerald Scorse | May 10, 2019 11:53:41 AM