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.