The House Ways and Means Committee sought the records in 2019, saying they would inform legislation to improve how the IRS conducts audits of the president. Under Trump, the Treasury Department refused to turn over the documents; under President Biden, Trump sued to bar the agency from doing so. He argues that the real purpose of lawmakers is political. But the appeals panel agreed with the lower court that lawmakers had a “legitimate legislative purpose” in examining the records, namely to assess the adequacy of the current auditing system.
“This is not where we delve into,” the appeals panel wrote. “The fact that individual members of Congress may have both political and legislative motives is immaterial.”
The court’s original order said an authorization to release the returns would be issued one week after all issues were resolved.
“The law has always been on our side,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement.
“Former President Trump tried to delay the inevitable, but the court reaffirmed the strength of our position,” the statement said. “We’ve waited long enough — we must begin monitoring the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible. “
Trump has broken with other major presidential candidates, refusing to release his tax returns during the campaign and refusing to divest himself of corporate holdings that benefit from the federal government and foreign powers while in office. In a separate lawsuit, the House Oversight Committee also sought financial records from Trump’s accounting firm, which reached an agreement in September to turn over materials.