Democrat Weighs Releasing Complaint About IRS Trump Tax Audit

(Bloomberg) -- A key House Democrat said he’s consulting lawyers about whether to make public a complaint by a federal employee about possible misconduct in the Internal Revenue Service’s auditing of President Donald Trump.

The complaint raises allegations about “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit process, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in August. Neal told reporters on Friday that a decision on releasing the complaint depends on advice he receives from lawyers for the House of Representatives.

Democrat Weighs Releasing Complaint About IRS Trump Tax Audit

The release of such a complaint could bolster Neal’s lawsuit seeking to obtain six years of Trump’s tax returns, which he filed in July after the Treasury Department rejected the committee’s request. Neal has said he needs the returns to ensure the IRS is following its policy of annually examining the president’s returns.

The Massachusetts Democrat first asked for Trump’s personal and business tax information in April, citing a provision in the tax code that allows the chairs of Congress’s tax-writing committees to receive the returns of any taxpayer. The provision doesn’t say that lawmakers need to state a legislative purpose, although some lawyers have said such a purpose is required.

Neal has cited his committee’s oversight of the presidential audit process to support his lawsuit. Republicans have criticized this rationale, saying Democrats only want the documents as a way to target a political enemy.

Neal’s Aug. 8 letter to Mnuchin asked for communications between IRS and Treasury employees involved in the audit process, and asked Mnuchin to reply by Aug. 13. The lawmaker’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether Mnuchin had submitted the documents.

Neal said House lawyers are also reviewing whether he should update his lawsuit seeking Trump’s tax returns to add the fact that the House is now considering impeaching the president.

Separately, a whistle-blower complaint alleging Trump abused his power by asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, was made public on Thursday.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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