Trump used Freedom of Information Act request to slow IRS release of his taxes

Former president Donald Trump inundated the Internal Revenue Service with a barrage of Freedom of Information Act requests meant to shed light on any internal deliberations agency officials were making as they considered turning his tax records over to the House Ways and Means Committee.

According to Bloomberg News, Mr Trump filed two requests with the tax collection agency in 2019, after then-House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal asked the Treasury Department to provide the panel with copies of several years of returns for Mr Trump and his companies.

One of the requests came just weeks before the committee sued the Treasury Department and IRS to force disclosure of the records, which he was entitled to ask for under a portion of the US code known as Section 6103.

A copy of the request obtained by Bloomberg shows Mr Trump asked for communications between then-IRS commissioner Charles Rettig and other officials “in connection with the disclosure or potential disclosure of any taxpayer materials” stemming from the House request.

He also demanded records the IRS turned over to Senator Ron Wyden, then the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, about a memorandum IRS attorneys prepared while awaiting a request for his tax returns from Congress.

Yet another request asked the agency to provide records of a briefing officials gave to the Ways and Means Committee on the mandatory audit practice for presidential tax returns, as well as documents relating to the agency’s “consideration of the potential disclosure of taxpayer’s tax returns” and records about “tax procedures specific to the president of the United States”.

Although the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee have had the authority to demand copies of any person’s tax return for roughly a century, Mr Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, refused to comply with the request and claimed it had no legitimate legislative purpose.

Mr Neal and House Democrats sued to force the IRS to provide them, touching off a yearslong court battle that was not resolved until December 2022, just days before Republicans took control of the House chamber.

After the Supreme Court declined to take up Mr Trump’s last-ditch appeal to keep the documents from the House committee, the IRS turned them over to the panel, which released them days later.