WASHINGTON — A U.S. federal judge ruled Tuesday to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s bid to prevent the Department of the Treasury from turning over his tax returns to Congress.
Made by Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden who serves in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., the ruling was a boost for the House Ways and Means Committee, whose chairman Richard Neal has been requesting the tax returns since mid-2019. McFadden said in the 45-page opinion that Trump was “wrong on the law,” and that congressional inquiries deserve “great deference.”
“Even the special solicitude accorded former Presidents does not alter the outcome. The Court will therefore dismiss this case.”
The Treasury Department under Trump and Trump in his personal capacity both fought the Ways and Means Committee’s request, arguing that it lacked legislative purpose.
Neal said the committee needed to see the tax returns because they are relevant to its oversight and legislative efforts to regulate the way the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — the tax-collecting body within the Treasury Department — audits presidents. With the change of administration following the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden’s administration changed posture in the case, with the Justice Department saying in July that Treasury must defer to Congress.
“This ruling is no surprise, the law is clearly on the Committee’s side,” Neal said in a statement hailing the judge’s decision. “I am pleased that we’re now one step closer to being able to conduct more thorough oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program.”
McFadden in his opinion expressed his reservations about making Trump’s tax returns public.
“It might not be right or wise to publish the returns, but it is the Chairman’s right to do so,” he wrote, adding “the Court will not do so here and thus must dismiss this case.” The judge paused the execution of his ruling for 14 days, during which time the parties in the case could discuss next steps. The White House is not allowed to provide Congress with tax returns during that period. Should the parties in the case fail to agree on next steps, Trump can seek relief from an appeals court.