What You Need to Know
- That decision reverses a 2019 opinion that the Treasury Department shouldn’t release the returns.
- The opinion by DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion notes that it needs to give Trump 72-hours’ notice before the documents are released, which would give him time to make a legal request to stop or delay the transfer.
- The court has granted the district attorney in Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, access to Trump’s tax records as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s business dealings.
The Justice Department directed the Treasury Department to hand over former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress, a move that means six years of Trump’s personal and business financial information could become public.
“We conclude that the Secretary must comply with the Ways and Means Committee’s June 16, 2021 request” for the tax returns and related tax information, the department’s Office of Legal Counsel said in a 39-page opinion posted on its website Friday.
That decision reverses a 2019 opinion that the Treasury Department shouldn’t release the returns, which “rested upon the assertion that the Committee was disingenuous about its true objective in seeking President Trump’s tax information.”
The move marks the latest and perhaps one of the final salvos in the years-long political standoff between Trump and Democratic leaders in Washington and New York over access to the former president’s tax returns. Reporting by the New York Times in 2020 suggested Trump paid no federal income taxes for years.
The Ways and Means Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, can choose to publish a report about Trump’s income and tax information based on the IRS returns, effectively making his tax returns public. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday that access to Trump’s tax returns “is a matter of national security.”
“The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” she said.
A Treasury spokeswoman referred questions to the Justice Department. Officials at the IRS and Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to questions about when the documents would be sent. Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
The opinion by DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion notes that it needs to give Trump 72-hours’ notice before the documents are released, which would give him time to make a legal request to stop or delay the transfer.
Lawyers for Trump, who have intervened in the suit filed by lawmakers, said in January that they’d almost certainly seek to block a handover in court, making it unlikely that Democrats will get access to the documents anytime soon.