The Democratic chairman who’s demanding to see President Trump’s tax returns says he’d have no problem releasing his own returns — later.
“Oh, sure — down the road, sure, that’s nothing,” Rep. Richard Neal said Thursday when asked if he would commit to releasing some of his personal returns. “I’ve done that in the past, by the way.”
Mr. Neal’s office didn’t respond to a question about when that might have been, and a Roll Call survey in 2017 found no record of a previous release of his tax returns.
New England Public Radio also tried to pry loose his tax returns in 2017, asking five separate times for copies. The congressman rebuffed each request.
“I think we should all jump together,” the Massachusetts Democrat told NEPR at the time, suggesting some future release date might be appropriate. “I think that’s the best way to approach it.”
Mr. Neal is now chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which makes him the top tax law writer in the country, since all tax revenue bills must start with him.
On Wednesday he flexed that position to send a letter to the IRS demanding to see six years of Mr. Trump’s returns, any information on audits he’s faced, and similar information for eight of his affiliated organizations.
As chairman, he is entitled to demand the information under Section 6103 of the tax code.
Mr. Trump said Wednesday he will resist compliance.
“Until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do that,” he told reporters.
Mr. Neal said being under an audit doesn’t cut it as an excuse.
“The argument we have here is that the professional staff and the attorneys say that you could still submit your tax forms even if you’re under audit,” he said.
He said he wants to get the information to review how the IRS handles audits of presidents’ taxes.
“We pointed out that this was about policy,” Mr. Neal said.
Mr. Neal said he won’t instruct his fellow Ways and Means members to reveal their own taxes, saying that’s their decision.
“They can do what they want to do,” he said. “This is about the institution of the presidency.”
But making the request was seen as a hardball political tactic, and some Democrats made clear they expect to find embarrassing information in the returns.
“For much of his adult life, Trump has used his power to shield himself from scrutiny or accountability. Subjecting his tax records to sunlight can finally hold him to both,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey Democrat and a fellow member of the Ways and Means Committee.
Mr. Pascrell’s office didn’t respond to an inquiry about the congressman’s tax returns. The Roll Call survey from 2017 said he released one set of tax returns from 2010 to “regional media” during a 2012 campaign.