Legislation

When the House asked to see Richard Nixon’s taxes, it got them in less than a day

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and his wife Louise Linton, hold up a sheet of new $1 bills, the first currency notes bearing his and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza's signatures, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in Washington. The Mnuchin-Carranza notes, which are a new series of 2017, 50-subject $1 notes, will be sent to the Federal Reserve to issue into circulation. At left is BEP Director Leonard Olijar. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

B-grade supervillian Steven Mnuchin

The request that the IRS release Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee is not the first time such a request has been made. However, it does seem to be the first time such a request has been refused. Newly public documents show that when a House panel made the same request for Richard Nixon’s tax forms in 1973, it got them. And it got them the same day it made the request. 

The Washington Post reports that the newly released documents show that the agency produced Nixon’s tax forms in both 1973 and 1974. In those years, Nixon, like Trump, had released a public financial statement, but had not made available his actual tax forms. As Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal made clear, the IRS complied with congressional requests “without delay or objection.”

The request made by the Joint Committee on Taxation in 1973 wasn’t just for that year’s taxes, but also for a review of Nixon’s tax returns from 1969 through 1972. They arrived within hours of that request reaching the IRS. 

The request for Trump’s taxes was made in April, but the IRS has not only failed to turn over forms in three months, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has made it clear that he has no intention of producing the documents. Mnuchin has also refused to comply with a subpoena ordering the documents be produced.

Mnuchin’s argument is that the congressional request “isn’t related to any legislative purpose.” But the law stating that the IRS shall produce these forms on request doesn’t require that Congress meet any hurdle to make the request. It just says the IRS shall comply with the request. 

That Trump should be impeached may be a matter for debate. But that Mnuchin should be facing jail for his refusal to comply with plain law should be a universal opinion.


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