A House of Representatives committee has the right to see former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting his claims that the request is too political to prevail.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the former Republican president, saying the panel’s request was justified as part of its legislative work.
It said the request did not violate separation of powers principles and was not unconstitutional, and the Biden administration’s decision to provide the returns to Congress did not violate Trump’s free speech rights.
The appeals court decision brings the years-long battle over making Trump’s taxes public closer to an end, and could lead to Trump’s financial dealings being revealed before the 2024 presidential election. Trump has teased another potential run for the White House.
The tax ruling came a day after Trump said FBI agents raided his Florida estate and broke into his safe, in what his son acknowledged was part of an investigation into Trump’s removal of official presidential records from the White House.Read full story
The House Ways and Means Committee said on Tuesday it expected to receive the tax records immediately.
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately return a request for comment on the ruling, or any possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Ways and Means Committee sued in 2019 to force disclosure of the tax returns, and the dispute has lingered for 19 months after Trump left office.
The court rejected Trump lawyers’ arguments that the records should be withheld because the panel’s motive for seeking them was political.
“When the committee makes a request that is within its authority to make, i.e., within Congress’s investigative power, the (Treasury) secretary does not have a choice as to whether to provide the information,” the court ruling said.
A district judge in December 2021 dismissed a bid by Trump to keep his tax returns from the panel, ruling that Congress’ legislative interest outweighed any deference Trump should receive as a former president.
Trump was the first president in 40 years not to release his tax returns which would reveal details of his wealth and the activities of his family company, the Trump Organization.
“While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting president with an invasive request after leaving office, every president takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” the appeals court said. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.”