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Justice Department says IRS must release Trump tax returns to committee

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel reversed its previous backing of the IRS not to release former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Committee on Ways and Means. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2cc9c22303414b5a7f2c60bb5c350393/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel reversed its previous backing of the IRS not to release former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Committee on Ways and Means. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- The Justice Department on Friday told the Treasury Department to hand former President Donald Trump's tax returns over to the House committee investigating his tax information.

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said the Internal Revenue Service must give the documents to the House Committee on Ways and Means because the lawmakers had a legitimate legislative reason for reviewing them.

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Under the Trump administration, the office agreed with the IRS when it declined to release the returns in 2019.

"The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president's tax information," the Office of Legal Counsel said in a slip opinion. "Treasury must furnish the information to the committee."

Trump has declined to disclose any tax information since announcing his candidacy for the presidency in mid-2015. He did so, he said, because his returns were under audit by the IRS. But there's no law preventing him from releasing the documents during such a review.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ways and means chairman, welcomed the OLC's opinion Friday.

"As I have maintained for years, the committee's case is very strong, and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward," he told CNN.

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