The Biden administration said it needed more time to decide whether to turn over former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress.
In a court filing Wednesday, the Treasury Department and the Justice Department said they were still weighing how to respond to a subpoena from House Democrats seeking six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Federal District Judge Trevor McFadden gave the government more time and ordered the parties to file a status report on March 31.
“Because the transition to new leadership in both agencies is still ongoing, Defendants need additional time to complete this process,” attorneys for the government said in the filing.
Lawyers for the House Democrats said any extensions granted by the judge “should be limited, given how long the committee’s request has been blocked.”
The legal battle dates back to 2019, when the House Ways and Means Committee sued to force then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to hand over tax records. Under Trump, the Justice Department fought the subpoenas issued by the committee, which filed a lawsuit.
Other lawsuits over the president’s tax records involving his accountants and bankers reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that Congress could not force the disclosure, at least for now. Those cases were returned to lower courts to assess whether lawmakers should limit the scope of the information they sought.
Separately, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has obtained Trump’s tax records as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s business. It is unclear if Vance will make those documents public.
In September 2020, the New York Times cited previously undisclosed statements in reporting that Trump had claimed chronic losses for years as a way to avoid taxes. He paid $ 750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and paid no taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, the newspaper reported.
The case is the Ways and Means Committee, United States House of Representatives v. United States Department of the Treasury, 19-cv-1974, United States District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
From the Archive: How Trump’s (Private) Tax Returns Could Be Made Public: QuickTake
(Updates with a judge granting an extension until March 31.)