Washington, Nov 23- The United States Supreme Court granted permission for the publication of Donald Trump’s tax returns to a House of Representatives committee on Tuesday, dealing a setback to the Republican former president who had accused the Democratic-led body of being politically motivated.
The Supreme Court dismissed Trump’s Oct. 31 emergency appeal to stay a lower court’s order upholding the Ways and Means Committee’s request for his tax returns as a legitimate element of the panel’s legislative activity. There was no public protest from the ruling.
The committee, which has demanded Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020, will have little time to complete its work on the returns before a Republican control of the House. Following the November 8 midterm elections, Republicans earned a slender majority and took control of the House – and the committee – in January.
The battle over his tax returns is only one of Trump’s legal problems as he prepares to run for president again in 2024. Trump officially launched his candidacy last week. The Supreme Court’s decision, according to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, maintains
“This transcends partisanship, and the committee will now undertake the oversight that we’ve wanted for three and a half years,” Neal said in a statement.
A request for a response from a Trump official was not immediately returned. Trump was the first president in four decades not to release his tax returns to keep the specifics of his income and the activities of his real estate firm, the Trump Organization, private.
In a legal filing, the Ways and Means Committee told the Supreme Court that siding with Trump would jeopardize a co-equal branch of government’s constitutional authority “by effectively blocking Congress from accomplishing any investigation regarding a former leader when there are claims that the inquiry was politically motivated.”
In its request, the panel used a federal provision that allows its chairman to obtain any individual’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). House Democrats have stated that they need to view Trump’s tax returns to determine if the IRS is properly inspecting presidential returns and whether new legislation is required.
The group informed the Supreme Court in its brief that IRS regulation “does not deal with a president who, like Donald Trump, owned numerous business companies, had inordinately complicated returns, utilized aggressive tax evasion methods, and purportedly had continuing audits.”
According to Trump’s lawyers, the committee’s true goal was to publicize his tax returns and find politically damaging material about Trump. In December 2021, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointment, backed Congress and dismissed the objection to the committee’s request, ruling that the committee had extensive power over a former president’s tax returns.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against Trump in August and denied a rehearing request in October. The decision issued on Tuesday replaced one issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Nov. 1 that essentially halted the dispute and stopped the panel from acquiring the Trump returns while the court deliberated on how to continue.
Trump’s legal woes are growing. His real estate business is facing criminal allegations in New York for tax evasion. Donald Bender, a former outside accountant for the firm who also handled Trump’s tax returns, testified to jurors on Tuesday that Trump recorded net operating losses from 2011 to 2018. Trump also claimed $700 million in losses in 2009 and $200 million in 2010.
According to the New York Times, those years of declaring massive losses from Trump’s business helped him offset hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in 2020. Furthermore, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel last week to supervise two investigations, including a criminal inquiry into the FBI’s seizure of official records from Trump’s Florida estate.
The attorney general of New York State has set a trial date for next year in a civil complaint charging Trump and three of his adult children of unlawfully overvaluing the company’s assets and his net worth. An inquiry in Georgia is also looking into whether Trump tampered with the state’s 2020 election results.