House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., set a new deadline for the committee to see six years of President Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns of April 23. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo
April 13 (UPI) -- House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal extended the deadline for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns after an initial deadline passed.
Neal, D-Mass., previously requested for the committee to see six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns to conduct oversight with an initial deadline for this past Wednesday. However, Treasury Steve Mnuchin did not meet that deadline and Neal has now revised his deadline to April 23.
"I expect a reply from the IRS by 5:00 p.m. on April 23, 2019" Neal wrote in the letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig, obtained by CNN. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request."
Democrats argue that IRS code 6103 allows Neal to ask for anyone's personal tax information for committee use, and that such requests are made routinely and handled through the IRS instead of the treasury secretary. But Republicans have dismissed his request as political and unprecedented.
"I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request, and the authority of the committee," he wrote in the letter. "Those concerns lack merit. Moreover, judicial precedent commands that none of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee's request."
Earlier this week, Mnuchin wrote to Neal that he would handle the request instead of the IRS commissioner, emphasizing that the request has an "unprecedented nature." Then, he failed to meet Neal's one-week deadline on Wednesday, saying he would instead consult with the Department of Justice before any further response to make sure handing over the returns wouldn't violate legal and constitutional rights.
Neal wrote in the letter Saturday that Congress has "broad" power to investigate, and the IRS code 6103 is "unambiguous" and does not need to be reviewed by the Treasury or Justice Department.
"It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information," Neal wrote.
Neal also wrote that concerns about the committee's access to the returns were "baseless."
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he's being audited and can't publicize his tax returns, breaking with decades of traditions where candidates release their tax returns as they run for president.
The fight over access to Trump's tax returns is expected to be a long legal battle.