Top House Democrat steps up demand for Trump's tax returns

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House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., on Saturday sent a two-page letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig rebuffing Mnuchin's statement earlier this week that Treasury would miss House Democrats' initial April 10 deadline for the returns.

Neal asked the IRS last Wednesday to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns within a week.

Neal's Saturday letter - addressed to Rettig, not Mnuchin - dismissed those concerns and set a new deadline of April 23 at 5 p.m.

Federal law gives the chairmen of House Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation the power to request the returns of any taxpayer, although some legal scholars believe the request needs a legitimate legislative objective, which Democrats say they have met.

Trump declined to provide his tax information as a candidate in 2016 and as president, something party nominees have traditionally done in the name of the transparency. Neal asked for Trump's returns a week ago.

On Monday, lawmakers in NY proposed a bill that would allow the commissioner of the state's Department of Taxation and Finance to turn over state tax returns if requested by certain congressional committees. "We have people working on it diligently". Being under audit is no legal bar to anyone releasing his or her returns.

The president has told those close to him that the attempt to get his returns amounted to an invasion of his privacy and was a further example of the Democratic-led "witch hunt" - which he has called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation - meant to damage him.

He said Treasury respects lawmakers' oversight duties and would make sure taxpayer protections would be "scrupulously observed, consistent with my statutory responsibilities" as the department reviews the request. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request", Neal said in the letter.

Neal also wrote that concerns about the committee's access to the returns were "baseless".

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is one of 18 states nationwide considering legislation on Trump's tax returns, which also includes New York, Colorado and Washington.

Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump's returns. But in recent weeks, he has added to the argument, saying publicly and privately that the American people elected him without seeing his taxes and would do so again.

Democrats believe they have the power under IRS code 6103 to request Trump's tax information including, but not limited to his tax returns.

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