Friday, April 12, 2019

When it comes to reporting Trump's tax returns to Congress, Treasury Secretary does not understand 'shall'

This was posted yesterday (April 12, 9:05 AM). The timing of this post is not critical given the prospect of an epic battle between the President and Congress.

In brief: (1) The Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, wrote to the Treasury Secretary asking for several years of Trump’s tax returns. (2) The Secretary declined. That puts the Secretary against the law.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

shall verb
\ shəl, ˈshal <br> Definition of shall
auxiliary verb
2b —used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory

From the U. S. Code:

26 U.S. Code § 6103. Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information
(f) Disclosure to Committees of Congress
(1) Committee on Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure. [emphasis added]

So, shall means shall. Secretary Mnuchin has no choice under the law. Actually, he does have a choice: to obey or to disobey. Apparently, according to the NY Times’ report, he chooses the latter.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that the Treasury Department’s lawyers needed more time to assess the lawfulness of the request and expressed concern that it would be a violation of taxpayer privacy.

Mr. Mnuchin did not say how much time the review would take but conveyed concerns about whether Congress has authority to review the records.

That’s B. S. Congress has the authority. See above section from the U. S. Code. By proceeding in this way, Mnuchin risks jail time.

The Arizona Blue Meanie, as always, takes us through the above statute and the rest of the applicable law: Treasury Defies Law to Deny House Request for Trump’s Tax Returns.

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