On April 3, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally requested Trump's tax returns, citing a provision in the tax code that empowers the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to request a president's tax returns.
Federal law allows Congress to demand the president's tax returns under certain circumstances, but on Monday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to disclose Trump's federal returns to the Democratic-controlled House, saying the request "lacks a legitimate legislative goal".
The bill up for a vote Wednesday would authorize state tax officials to release returns filed by seven different types of state and federal officeholders if requested by three congressional committees.
"As you recognized, the Committee's request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers", added Mnuchin. "I will be talking to House counsel in the course of the next day or so and we will have a response by the end of the week". But Treasury missed the deadlines, a strategy Democrats have argued was an effort to delay the process.
Critics of Mnuchin's decision not to release the president's financial records have pointed to a 1924 law giving the House Ways and Means chairman the ability to request taxpayer information from the IRS.
"What's unprecedented is this secretary refusing to comply with our lawful ... request". The legislation says the treasury secretary "shall furnish" the information to Congress. According to the Washington Post's Damian Paletta, the Justice Department refused to release its formal legal opinion on the matter-possibly because it doesn't exist.
Congressional Democrats agitated for the president's tax documents.
The Massachusetts Democrat has previously indicated that defying his request would be interpreted as noncompliance and lead to an escalation of a standoff between the Trump administration and House Democrats.
After Neal first issued the request, the Trump Administration immediately suggested that it would fail to comply with the request, with Mnuchin blowing off two deadlines imposed by Neal to hand over the tax information.
Neal wrote to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, saying "Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws". Senate Democrats grilled the attorney general about his summary of the report and his remarks about what the investigation revealed.