If Democrats exit the midterms with control of the House, one of their top priorities will be obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns, and there is an obscure law that will allow them to do it.
> The nearly 100-year-old statute allows the chairmen of Congress’ tax committees to look at anyone’s returns, and Democrats say they intend to use that power to help answer a long list of questions about Trump’s finances. Many also want to use it to make public confidential information about Trump’s taxes that he’s steadfastly refused to release.
> “Probably the approach would be to get all of it, review it, and, depending on what that shows, release all or part of it,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, the No. 4 Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.
> That could bring a swift end to the long-running battle over Trump’s returns, while generating loads of fodder for what promises to be an array of investigations into the administration if Democrats win power.
Though the move would likely rile his supporters and incense the president himself, Democrats say Trump’s decision to withhold his tax returns — flying in the face of a decades-old tradition — makes the move necessary.
> “There are legitimate oversight questions that can only be answered by having those documents,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a tax writer and the top Democrat on the chamber’s intelligence committee.
Passed in 1924, the law requires the Treasury Department to turn over “any return or return information” requested by tax committee chairs or head of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation for private review, according to Politico.
> The law was passed amid concerns about corruption and conflicts of interest in the executive branch, such as those posed by then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s business interests.
> “When this right was first developed, it was developed in an environment not dissimilar to now,” said George Yin, a former JCT chief who now teaches at the University of Virginia’s law school.