Ways and Means chairman cites ‘credible allegations’ of misconduct in presidential tax audit

Allegation cited in filing in battle between House Democrats and Treasury over access to returns

President Donald Trump is opposing an attempt by the House Ways and Means Committee to get access to his tax returns. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The House Ways and Means Committee said it had received “credible allegations” from a federal employee of potentially “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS’ mandatory audit of presidential tax returns.

References to the unexplained allegations were in a letter included in a Tuesday filing by the committee in its federal lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The filing consisted of arguments in support of the committee’s motion for the court to grant it summary judgment in its lawsuit seeking six years of tax returns from President Trump and from eight of his businesses.

In an Aug. 8 letter to Mnuchin, Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal said the committee had received an “unsolicited communication” July 29 from a federal employee claiming “evidence of possible misconduct” regarding the presidential audit program. While not required to do so by law, the IRS adopted the practice during President Richard Nixon’s term of annually auditing the president’s tax returns.

Neal’s letter provides no details of the allegations and doesn’t specify that the allegations regarding the audit program related to Trump’s returns.

But in his letter, Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, characterized the allegations as “a grave charge that appreciably heightens the Committee's concerns about the absence of appropriate safeguards as part of the mandatory audit program and whether statutory codification of such program or other remedial, legislative measures are warranted.”

Mnuchin has argued against providing Trump’s tax returns to Neal, saying the request is politically motivated and would serve no legitimate legislative purpose. Neal has argued that he needs the returns to help craft proposed legislation on the audit program.

In an Aug. 13 response to Neal’s letter, Mnuchin said that the communication referred to from the federal employee “would fall within the jurisdiction” of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and “we have referred your letter to that office.” Neal’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether it had been contacted by the inspector general’s office on the matter.

The Tuesday filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia noted that Neal had asked Mnuchin to produce records relating to the allegations, but that Mnuchin did not do so, instead referring the matter to TIGTA

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