U.S. Code § 6103: Law Permitting Disclosure of Tax Returns and Related Tax Information to Committees of Congress

Under the Internal Revenue Code, income tax returns and other information related to tax returns can be kept confidential. That is the general rule; but with certain exceptions which Congress passed into law in 1924 under U.S. Code § 6103.

The provision listed exceptions to the confidentiality rule; permitting disclosure of tax returns or related information upon request of certain individuals or examining authority. It was noted that disclosure of tax returns to Committees of Congress, is among the long list of exceptions to the tax information confidentiality rule.

This particular provision is highly relevant to President Trump’s continuing refusal to submit copies of his personal tax returns. Richard Neal, D-Mass of the House Ways and Means, in his capacity as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had sent a letter to the IRS of the Treasury Department last April 03, 2019. Compliance to the House Committee’s request is expected on or before April 10, 2019.

However, through a new set of lawyers hired by Donald Trump, the president stayed firm on his refusal to furnish Congress with documents and information related to his personal and business tax returns. Trump’s new attorney, William Consovoy sent a 4-page letter seeking to weaken the validity of the reason for which the confidentiality exemption is being invoked.

Trump’s Refusal will Likely Lead to Another Court Battle

Even before House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal sent the request, he already anticipated that Trump will do everything possible to keep his personal and business tax information confidential. If necessary, the House Ways and Means Committee intends to bring this matter to court.

Consovoy’s letter is seen as a mere ploy to delay the Treasury Department’s release of the requested documents, whilst awaiting the Justice Department’s position regarding the matter. Not a few regard U.S. Code § 6103 as an obscure provision that requires clarification, as its legislation was an offshoot of the Teapot Dome scandal that involved certain cabinet members of President Harding’s administration.

Cohen’s Latest Testimony Could Boost Trump’s Unprecedented Number of Lawsuits

Michael Cohen’s testimony at the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reforms last February 27, 2019, opened a can of worms so to speak. Albeit being discredited for his own conviction mainly as a tax cheat, a perjurer, and a falsifier of documents, Michael Cohen produced documents that serve as starting points from which other related documents will be scrutinized.

As a result, Democrats serving as committee members of the House Judiciary Committee, have sent out 81 requests for documents to different Trump Administration members, as well as to family and associates linked to the Trump Organization and electoral campaign. Through the requested documents, the investigating panel aims to establish whether or not, Michael Cohen’s latest testimony is credible, or just another thread of lies to bring down Donald Trump.

According to House Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), the results of their investigation will either absolve or implicate Trump and members of his family, staff, advisers, campaign supporters and all others linked to Cohen’s testimony of Trump’s wrongdoings.

House Judiciary Committee’s Probe to Compound Trump’s Political Problems

When asked last Monday if he and every recipient of the document request, intends to cooperate, President Trump signified that he will, as he does all the time and with everybody. However, Trump could not resist adding that the House Judiciary Committee investigation, is a “political hoax.” Furthermore, he suggested that the absence of collusion will render the outcome of the investigation as mertiless.

That is Trump’s view; but not for NY Democrat and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler. The latter believes that if there is anything that Trump is guilty of, it is that of obstructing justice. Rep. Nadler cited Trump’s public attacks and criticisms on investigators probing his associates and business transactions, as a form of intimidation intended to obstruct justice.

 

House Committee Chairman Nadler explicitly stated,

Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,”…Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation.

Lawsuits a Norm for Trump

In June 2016, USA Today published a list of legal cases filed in US Federal Courts and in common law courts, totalling about 3500. Trump and his businesses were named either as plaintiffs, defendants or as third party to bankruptcy proceedings. In those cases, 500 claims against Trump were dismissed, while of those with clear resolution, 451 were ruled in Trump’s favor, with only 38 cases ruled otherwise.

At least 100 cases reached extrajudicial settlements that paid out hundreds of thousands; the highest known settlement was in the range of tens of millions.

Lawsuits continued to pour in, even during Trump’s presidency, including one involving a mauling incident ordered by Trump against protesters in Louisville, Kentucky. The numbers continue to rise, with the most recent being the lawsuits filed by political watchdogs, and 16 U.S.states against Trump’s national emergency declaration.

In this aspect, Donald Trump surpasses the record of even the most challenged individual to ever assume office as president of the United States, for having faced and about to face an unprecedented number of lawsuits.

Donald Trump and His National Emergency Declaration to Face Several Lawsuits

Time and again, US President Donald Trump warned Congress that if his request for a $5.7 billion funding for US- Mexico Border Wall project is not granted, he will use his executive power to declare a state of national emergency. Now that Trump finally made good on his threat, the incumbent president is about to have his day or days in court to officially explain the legality of his use of an executive power reserved for emergency situations. This time, his justifications for his executive action must be fully supported by solid evidences and credible testimonials coming from reliable witnesses and experts.

Right after Trump announced his declaration of placing the South Border under a state of national emergency, several legal entities acting as defenders of constitutional rights, human rights, and other rights that have been trampled upon by Trump’s recent action, have either filed a federal lawsuit or announced their intention to do so, in order to challenge Donald Trump in court.

Legal Entities with Federal Lawsuit Already Filed in Court

One of the firsts to file a federal lawsuit is the Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer organization founded as far back as 1971. Comprised by more than 400,000 members, it has been instrumental in carrying out movements, and if necessary, seek court rulings in order to ensure that the present government is working for the benefit of its people.

Aside from the federal lawsuit filed by the Public Citizen against Trump, three Texas landowners have also pitched in their complaint that Trump’s national emergency declaration includes imminent sequestration of their property to make way for the extension of the South Border Wall.

Should the court declare Trump’s use of the National Emergency Act illegal, then it strips the government of the right to seize privately-owned properties with or without compensation.

Another federal lawsuit already filed in Washington D.C. is by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Instead of targeting Trump as main respondent, the lawsuit faults the Justice Department. The Justice Department failed to uphold the Freedom of Information Act in relation to making public the information on which Trump’s emergency declaration is based.

Other legal entities that have announced their intention to challenge the legality of the emergency order, include the U.S. Congress, the State of California, El Paso County and the American Civil Liberties Union, just to mention a few.

Who is a Legal Person?

A legal person is one born to a country of domicile, whilst naturally earning the rights and privileges to exist and participate as a citizen of that territory. In which case, a legal person is a natural being who must also assume responsibilities and obligations due to the territory that has given him or her benefits gained from such rights and privileges.

As a natural person, he or she is a human being entitled to assert ethical and justifiable rights to be free for harm, claim protection or act in accordance with the dictates of moral conscience. In asserting such rights, a natural person has a moral obligation to interact harmoniously with other natural persons; mainly by respecting everyone’s legal and moral rights. In doing so, he or she must coexist with other natural beings without bias, or adherence to any form of discrimination.

Can a Legal Person Become Illegal?

Basically, a legal person does not become an illegal person on whatever basis by which the legality of his or her freedom to reside, or coexist with others, is being questioned. Even if he or she is a convicted felon, some important legal rights may be taken away but not all. A convict is still a legal person, who retains the right to receive care, protection and rehabilitation so that he or she can later rejoin society as a reformed felon.

Legal persons found residing in another country without proper documentation for their immigration are called illegal immigrants. When proven guilty, they receive punishment for committing a civil infraction and will be sent back to their respective home country as part of their punishment. Upon return return to their sovereign country, they are still entitled to receive the same rights and privileges afforded to them as natural-born citizens . Not unless they left their homeland in order to avoid criminal conviction.

Can an Institution or Organization Become a Legal Person?

An institution, organization or association composed of several individuals, may apply for special legal rights in order to protect every shareholder or member from unjust or unwarranted liabilities. However, the special rights and protection is only as far as their involvement as shareholder or membership is concerned. In such cases, the institution or organization that receives approval for specific rights, assumes a legal personality and will be recognized as a legal entity.