In a major blow to Donald Trump, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for the handover of the former president’s tax returns to a congressional committee. It rejected his plea for an order to prevent the Treasury Department from giving six years of his tax returns to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.
Trump has been trying to block access to his tax returns and of his businesses for years now. There were no noted dissidents as his appeal was struck down, paving the way for the Committee to finally lay their hands on them.
Trump has always kept his tax returns a secret, even during the 2016 election campaign and later during his tenure as president on the premise of an ongoing audit by the IRS. After losing at the lower court level, Trump had moved the Supreme Court that comprised three of his nominees, arguing that the only reason the committee wants the tax records is so that it can make them public.
Chief Justice John Roberts of the lower court had put a temporary hold on the matter on November 1 to give the judges more time to understand the concerns of Trump’s legal team and the counter arguments of the administration and the House of Representatives. However, it was lifted three weeks later.
While Trump was president, the Treasury Department had refused to provide the records. But the body changed stance under the Biden administration, stating that the federal law says that the committee has the right to examine any taxpayer’s return, including the president’s.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, has been trying to gain the records since 2019. Neal said in a statement that his committee “will now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years.”
The timing of the order goes against Trump who has recently announced another run for the White House. The House had stood up against the order preventing the IRS from giving the tax returns, saying that since their term ends soon, the lawmakers would be left with “little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress”.
If Trump had managed to get the Supreme Court to rule in his favour, he could have beaten the clock as Republicans are ready to take control of the House in January.
(With inputs from agencies)