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Trump Attorney: IRS Can't Legally Release Tax Returns

Requests 'must have a legitimate legislative purpose,' William Consovoy argues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2019 5:00 AM CDT
President Donald Trump greets well wishers after disembarking from Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, April 5, 2019, in Los Angeles. After he inspected a refurbished section...   (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via AP)

(Newser) – An attorney representing President Trump argued Friday that a request for the president's tax returns "would set a dangerous precedent" if granted and that the IRS cannot legally divulge the information. Rep. Richard Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has formally asked the IRS to provide six years of Trump's personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses by April 10. Democrats are seeking information about Trump's financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest. But William Consovoy, whose firm was retained by Trump to represent him on the matter, said in a letter to the Department of Treasury's general counsel that the tax code zealously guards taxpayer privacy. He said requests for tax returns "must have a legitimate legislative purpose."

Consovoy said that Neal's request for Trump's tax information is to damage him politically. "His request is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech," Consovoy said. Consovoy outlined his concerns in a four-page letter to the Treasury Department; the IRS is a part of that department. He asked that the IRS also consult with the Justice Department before releasing any tax information, saying "caution and deliberation are essential to ensure that the Treasury Department does not erode the constitutional separation of powers or the tax code's core purpose of protecting taxpayer privacy." Neal is one of only three congressional officials authorized to make a written request to the Treasury secretary for anyone's tax returns, reports the AP.

(Read more President Trump stories.)

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