Federal Appeals Court Denies Trump Bid to Keep Tax Returns Shielded From House Committee

Federal Appeals Court Denies Trump Bid to Keep Tax Returns Shielded From House Committee
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a "Save America" rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept. 17, 2022. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Former President Donald Trump has lost an appeal to keep six years of his income tax returns shielded from the House Ways and Means Committee, amid a longstanding battle between the Democrat-led House and Trump over his financial records.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump nominee, had in December 2021 dismissed Trump’s effort to block the Department of the Treasury from turning over his tax returns to the House committee.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday denied Trump’s request to rehear his appeal of McFadden’s decision. The appeals court’s decision had no noted dissents.

The latest development comes after a three-judge panel on the same federal appeals court in August unanimously denied Trump’s appeal of the decision and upheld McFadden’s decision.

The overall lawsuit stems from a request from Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), first made in 2019 and resubmitted in 2021 after President Joe Biden took office, seeking six years of Trump’s tax returns, starting the year before Trump took office.

The Department of the Treasury, citing a Department of Justice legal opinion, refused to comply with the initial request. But the Department of Justice reversed course in July 2021, finding the new request was valid. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, then signaled it would comply. Trump sued in November 2021, and appealed McFadden’s decision the following month.

Trump argued at the time that the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Neal, did not have a legitimate legislative purpose for pursuing his returns. Neal contended that the purpose was to ensure the IRS-run Presidential Audit Program has no flaws.

Following Thursday’s decision, Neal said in a statement that lawmakers “must begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible.”

Trump’s attorney in the case, Cameron T. Norris, has not issued a public comment on the ruling.

Presidents and presidential candidates are not required by law to disclose their tax returns, although it is a common practice. Trump is a rare exception, being the only president in modern U.S. history to have declined to publicly release his tax returns.

A separate lawsuit involving the House Oversight Committee is also seeking records of Trump’s tax returns. In September, the committee announced that it could obtain some but not all of the documents it requested.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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