Status of Trump tax returns to be focus of Tuesday hearing

Status of Trump tax returns to be focus of Tuesday hearing

The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns — possibly answering questions about whether the committee could make public the documents that have been shrouded in secrecy.

The committee obtained six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns in November, following a years-long court fight for documents that other presidents have routinely made public since the 1970s.

The legal clash went all the way up the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats in a brief order handed down just before Thanksgiving.

Trump bashed the high court — which features three of his nominees — after the ruling. “The Supreme Court has lost its honor, prestige, and standing, & has become nothing more than a political body, with our Country paying the price,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media website Truth Social after the decision.

The meeting in “consideration” of the Trump documents comes just before Republicans are set to reclaim control of the House — and the committee — next month.

A spokesperson for the committee told NBC News that chair Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., “will provide an update to Committee members as we approach the end of the 117th Congress.”

It was not immediately clear whether the hearing will be public.

While tax returns are confidential under federal law, there are some exceptions — including if the chair of the Ways and Means committee requests them.

Neal did just that in April of 2019, asking the Treasury Department to turn over Trump’s returns as well as related business entities so the committee could decide whether tax laws concerning presidents should be amended.

The Treasury Department refused to comply, saying Neal did not have a valid purpose for seeking the returns. The committee then filed suit to get ahold of the documents.

Trump’s attorneys argued in court filings last year that the returns should be kept away from the panel because its rationale for seeking them was bogus. “No one believes that Chairman Neal requested President Trump’s tax returns so he can study legislation about IRS audits. No one,” Trump’s lawyers contended.

Asked earlier this month if he planned to make the documents publicly available, Neal said, “It’s too early to say.”

Every president since Richard Nixon has made their tax returns public. Trump declined to release his during the 2016 election, saying they were under audit and he would release them when the audit was finished.

He said after he became president that he might release them after he’s out of office. “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job,” he said.

Haley Talbot contributed.