Why Doesn't Congress Subpoena Trump's Tax Docs?

I am no political scientist, so can someone explain why Congress is not (or, cannot?) subpoena Trump’s taxes for the last seven years? And, if Congress could if they wanted, why is there all this pussyfooting around?

Someone will come up with a more direct and precise answer, but I’ll tell you the real answer: because they really don’t want to.

They view this as a slippery slope. And if we get used to seeing the tax returns of politicians, Congress will be up next, and they don’t want that.

Can they? Yes (though it sounds like it may not be technically a subpoena):

It does not look like such a request has yet been submitted to Treasury, though I think it’s inevitable that it will happen. It sounds like the delay is, in large part, because (as both of the above articles note) one can undoubtedly expect it to kick off a legal fight. The Post article above quotes Nancy Pelosi: “We have to be very, very careful as we go forward. It’s not an issue of just sending a letter. You have to do it in a very careful way.” It also quotes House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (who would be the author of such a request) as saying that it would touch off a “long and arduous” court case.

I can’t answer your second question. But, under 26 USC 6103(f), the respective chairs of the Committee on Ways and Means (of the House); Committee on Finance (of the Senate); or Joint Committee on Taxation has the authority to obtain tax returns and other information from the Treasury Department for any taxpayer. Those committees have a broad ability to transmit information from those returns to the House and Senate generally. It is unclear (and debated) whether members of Congress could release the information publicly (or whether it would be, in fact, a crime).

I doubt you can do stuff like this just because you don’t like someone.

You need a fact or piece of information that shows that something exists or is true.

Even a President has rights like the rest of us.

Which, I suspect, is exactly why the House has not yet made the request – knowing that it’ll immediately be challenged by Trump’s lawyers, they’re building a thorough, documented case for the request.

The law clearly provides for congressional committees to obtain tax returns. As mentioned above, the law provides:

We are all speculating here, but the House Dems are probably weighing a few issues before acting, such as:

  1. How will the Dems explain why they seek the returns? Does their reasoning seem arbitrary and politically-driven, or is there a substantive issue they want to describe as being the reason for the request?
  2. If the Treasury Secretary breaks the law and refuses to hand them over, what will Dems do next?
  3. What would the Dems do if one of their members breaks the law and leaks the returns to the press?

Again, I’m speculating as to why they haven’t requested them already, but those are quite complex issues. I can see that they would take some time to think about them.

I totally agree. No one is going to do something that is very likely to come back to bite them in the ass.

If it was done and done easily it would set a precedent no member of congress wants.

I call BS on this one. Most politicians know, or soon learn, then live under a microscope. I, Joe Public, are completely on board that if you wanna throw your hat in the ring, then you are subject to oversight and public record. Those with nothing to hide recognize it is part of public office. Those with something to hide, shouldn’t even try to run. Trump managed to get away with it so far, but I think the majority of voters want a modicum of transparency.

Certainly whether a candidate releases returns is a big factor in how I vote. YMMV

This is speculation, not a factual answer, but I wonder if timing could be a part of the decision. If HoR issues a subpoena now, it would seem like a political act, and soon turn into just more noise. Issuing a subpoena after Mueller indicts members of the Trump organisation for money laundering and the act is much bigger. Alternatively, wait for Trump to say/tweet something controversial about paying taxes. In other words, maybe HoR is waiting for the right opportunity, not the first one.

I would also lay good money on the returns being leaked somehow once Congress has them, whether or not it’s legal.

Yeah. The returns won’t be able to show any definitive criminal acts. But could be used as evidence of his suspected money laundering.

Trump will just say that “I gave him a great deal, he didn’t want it so being such a super terrific guy I bought it back” Just another lie on the pile.

I think Trumps real concern is that his taxes would show that he is not worth nearly as much as he claims. This is the narcissists dilemma. It would show that he’s not as great as he believes. But will just wave it away as we don’t understand big business.

He doesn’t worry about crime. He doesn’t recognize crime the way a normal person does. To him, it’s a way of life.

When Cohen was interviewed, we already say Ocasio-Cortez clearly asking questions about this. She got Cohen to admit that he believes that the tax returns would be enlightening on the issues related to this. That’s too much of a pro move for me to think it was entirely her idea–no offense to her.

The Dems are clearly setting up a case for this, for why they need the returns for their investigations.

She has pros on her team.

If it turns out, as I believe, Trump is leveraged to the hilt and his net worth is no where near a billion dollars, then his dissatisfied, uneducamacated skewing older white bread no crust base are going to have issues. His base is totally cool with a Beverly Hillbilly. But if it turns out he’s been lying about what a big rich dude he is, then that’s beyond the pale.

Moderator Note

Let’s keep the political jabs out of GQ. No warning issued.

General Questions Moderator

But would all of his assets be listed on his tax returns?

I don’t know if they’d be directly listed, but we’d see what sorts of capital gains and dividends he was paid, which would indicate pretty clearly what sort of wealth tier he’s actually in.

Put another way, your house’s value isn’t on your tax return, but the amount of property tax you paid is. So is the income from any investments you realized, either through sale or via dividends.

I bet it’s not.

Many in Congress show up pretty poor and leave pretty rich. While many presidential hopefuls have shown some of their tax returns, not all have, and most haven’t shown them all. Congressmen don’t want this to be the norm.

It may simply be that the tax returns are, in the political calculus, much more effective as a thing Trump won’t release than as a thing everyone’s seen.

Remember when Rachel Maddow spent 20 minutes on air talking about what a big deal it was she had a few pages of a Trump tax return and then, when it was revlealed, it contained nothing interesting and no one cared? There is a 98% likelihood Trump’s tax returns will say the same nothing. I mean, they aren’t going to say I DID A BUNCH OF CRIMES on them. The whole point of tax evasion is your tax returns don’t tell the truth. And they won’t tell you “This guy is not a billionaire,” they just say what his personal income (independent of any assets held) was in each year.