Trump Falsely Says Law Prevents Him Releasing Tax Returns Under Audit

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said erroneously that the law is on his side to fight House Democrats’ attempts to see his personal and business tax returns.

“Hey, I’m under audit,” Trump told reporters Friday as he was leaving the White House for a trip to the California-Mexico border. He added that the law on releasing tax returns is “100 percent on my side.”

Trump has long insisted that the reason he won’t voluntarily release his tax returns is because he is under audit by the IRS. No law bars a filer from releasing tax returns that are being audited. Sitting presidents and vice presidents are annually audited by the IRS, but Trump claimed he was under audit for years before he was elected.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal asked the IRS on Wednesday to release six years’ worth of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, citing a 1924 law that gives Neal, along with the other heads of the congressional tax committees, the authority to request the tax return of any filer. The law says the Treasury Secretary “shall” hand over those documents upon request.

Trump’s comments signal he is ready to engage in a long legal battle with Democrats to protect his tax information. The IRS and Treasury Department have not yet said how they will respond to Neal’s request. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last month said he would comply with the law, but also said he would protect the president’s privacy.

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