Wednesday 21 August 2019

Trump staying coy on tax

President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, California. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, California. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Kevin Freking

An attorney representing US President Donald Trump says a congressional request for Trump's tax returns "would set a dangerous precedent" if granted and that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cannot legally divulge the information.

Democratic Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has asked the IRS to provide six years of Trump's personal tax returns and those of some of his businesses.

Democrats are seeking information about financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

Attorney William Consovoy said in a letter to the Treasury that the tax code zealously guards taxpayer privacy. He said requests for tax returns "must have a legitimate legislative purpose".

Consovoy said 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.

Neal requested Trump's personal and business returns in a letter to IRS commissioner Charles Rettig. He asked for returns covering 2013 through 2018. He also asked for the documents in seven days, setting an April 10 deadline.

Trump declined to provide his tax information as a candidate and as president, something party nominees have traditionally done in the name of the transparency.

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