The former president has a week to appeal the panel’s decision and ask the full Court of Appeals to hear the case before the verdict goes into effect. Trump’s attorney, Cameron T. Norris, who is handling the appeal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) welcomed the decision, calling it “an important victory for the rule of law.”
“Access to the former president’s tax returns is critical to safeguarding the public interest, our national security and our democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We look forward to the IRS complying with this decision and providing the requested documents to enable Ways and Means to assume its oversight responsibilities for the President’s mandatory audit program.”
Judges review demand for Trump tax returns
The panel’s 3-0 ruling caps another round of legal battles between Trump — who promised as a presidential candidate he would eventually release his tax returns but never did — and the committee, which argues he has the right under federal law to file a taxpayer’s taxes person in the process of creating stricter financial disclosure and auditing laws.
In 2021, after Trump left office, the committee renewed its request for his tax returns, and the Biden administration’s Treasury Department agreed to provide them, leading to a lawsuit by Trump.
In an attempt to keep his records private, Trump claimed that the committee had no “legitimate legislative purpose” for collecting the tax returns; that the Committee violated the separation of powers; that the law allowing the committee to review tax returns is “unconstitutional”; and that the Treasury Department, by agreeing to release the records, violated Trump’s constitutional rights by retaliating against him.
The Appellate Body rejected all four arguments.
The committee “identified a legitimate legislative purpose for which information is needed,” the ruling said. “The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political as well as legislative motives is irrelevant. In fact, it is rare that a single member of Congress works for a legislative purpose without considering the political implications.”
The status of important investigations related to Donald Trump
As for the separation of powers, “this case prompted much discussion about Congressional intrusion into the executive branch and personal life of [Trump] and the burden that such interventions entail,” the decision said. While that charge is “specific,” it is “feeling at best” and “insufficient to require us to honor the Chairman’s request for returns and return information.”
Rejecting Trump’s contention that the law allowing the committee to review tax returns is unconstitutional, the ruling said, “This law may be properly applied in numerous circumstances, including those in a court of law.”
And the panel dismissed claims that President Biden’s Treasury Department violated Trump’s constitutional rights by acting with an improper motive — retaliation — in approving the committee’s tax return request.
“The improper motive must be a ground for the government action, which means that the adverse action against the plaintiff would not have been taken without the motive for retaliation,” the decision reads. Trump “cannot demonstrate that the Treasury Department’s decision to grant the 2021 request would not have occurred without a motive for retaliation.”