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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Report Makes the Case: Congress Can and Should Obtain Trump’s Tax Returns
Press Release

RELEASE: New CAP Report Makes the Case: Congress Can and Should Obtain Trump’s Tax Returns

Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump has inhabited the White House for more than two years, but as a result of the president’s stonewalling, the American people do not know to what extent Trump is looking out for his own bottom line rather than the country’s best interests when it comes to national security, trade, tax, and other policy areas. A new report from the Center for American Progress makes the case that Congress not only has the authority to obtain the president’s full tax returns, but also that it must do so in order to seek an answer to the fundamental question of whether President Trump is working for the interests of the country or himself.

“It’s time to stop the corruption and call Trump’s bluff on his cover-ups. Trump promised to release his tax returns, because the American people rightly wanted assurance that he would not put his personal financial interests ahead of the country. The fact that his underlings are threatening to flout the law to avoid providing the returns to Congress suggests that America’s worst fears were correct,” said Seth Hanlon, senior fellow at CAP and author of the report. “The law is crystal clear: The IRS is obligated to provide any tax returns upon request to Congress. If Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blocks the IRS from complying with a request from Congress, he would simply be violating the law.”

CAP’s report explains why Congress has not only the clear authority to obtain Trump’s tax returns, but also the constitutional responsibility to do so given his secrecy and his domestic and foreign business entanglements, as well as the powers of the office. It explains that the law giving Congress this authority was intended for situations such as this—to enable Congress to exercise oversight over the executive branch and monitor conflicts of interest. While regular citizens can expect that their tax returns will remain private, the president of the United States should have no such expectation, especially when he refuses to divest his domestic and international business holdings. Tax returns contain information not available elsewhere that could provide critical information to complete the president’s financial picture.

Furthermore, Congress has multiple reasons to obtain and review President Trump’s tax returns—reasons that are not only legitimate uses of its legislative powers, but also urgently needed, including:

  • To determine if U.S. national security is at risk of being compromised by the president’s financial conflicts of interest
  • To determine if Trump has conflicts of interests bearing on his trade and tariffs policies
  • To determine whether the president is violating the U.S. Constitution by receiving benefits from foreign countries without Congress’ consent
  • To determine whether he is benefiting from his tax policies despite his many public assertions to the contrary
  • To determine whether the IRS is adequately auditing the president
  • To inform the consideration of additional disclosure requirements for candidates and officeholders

CAP’s report adds that presidents and presidential candidates are scrutinized about every aspect of their lives, including their careers, values, religion, family history, personal behavior, and personal habits. The information on a tax return is far more important and far less personal than what we expect from candidates in other areas. Thus, if the president of the United States has any privacy interest at all in his tax returns, it is overwhelmed by Congress’ interest in informing itself and thereby fulfilling its function within the constitutional system of checks and balances.

Click here to read: “President Trump Cannot Hide His Tax Returns From Congress” by Seth Hanlon

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202-478-6331.