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IRS asks Supreme Court not to block Congress from Trump’s tax records

Former U.S. President Donald Trump makes a fist while reacting to applause after speaking at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville, North Carolina, June 5, 2021.

Jonathan Drake | Reuters

The IRS and the Treasury Department on Thursday urged the Supreme Court against blocking a lower court ruling requiring the agencies to turn over years of former President Donald Trump’s federal tax returns to Congress.

The IRS and Treasury in a legal brief said that Trump’s emergency request for a delay “cannot satisfy the demanding standard for that extraordinary relief.”

The filing came nine days after Chief Justice John Roberts issued a temporary block on the House Ways and Means Committee getting the tax returns of Trump and related business entities from the IRS.

Roberts’ action came after Trump sought the delay pending the high court ruling on whether he would be allowed to appeal a lower court order allowing the committee to get the tax records.

The Democratic-controlled Ways and Means Committee has said it wants the returns from the Treasury Department as part of a probe of how the IRS audits presidential taxes. Presidential tax returns are automatically audited each year by law.

If the Supreme Court does not maintain the block — as Treasury and the IRS have urged it not to do — the committee could get the returns soon.

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The former president has lost legal efforts in federal court in Washington, D.C., and at the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the committee from getting the records.

Trump, who as a candidate and occupant of the White House broke decades of precedent by refusing to publicly release his tax turns, then asked the Supreme Court to hear his appeal. The high court does not automatically grant such requests. If it denies Trump’s request, that would clear the way for Ways and Means to get his tax returns.

In the filing Thursday, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, acting as the lawyer for Treasury and the IRS, wrote that the federal appeals court “correctly held” that the request for the tax records by the committee’s chairman provided a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

Prelogar noted that Trump’s lawyers have argued that the appeals court should have looked beyond that stated purpose, and considered evidence that the request for the records was “also motivated by political considerations.”

“But for nearly a century, this Court has refused to entangle the judiciary in such inquiries into ‘the motives alleged to have prompted’ a congressional request that is otherwise supported by a valid legislative purpose,” the solicitor general wrote.

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