US President Donald Trump, facing a congressional deadline for his administration to provide his tax returns, has said he “won’t do it” while he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Mr Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that “I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit”.
Representative Richard Neal, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has asked the IRS to turn over six years’ of the president’s tax returns by the end of the day.
Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, who supervises the IRS, said he is not seeking direction from the White House on whether to comply.
He said the department would probably respond by Mr Neal’s deadline but did not say whether he would provide the returns as demanded.
Democrats do not expect the Treasury to comply but they have not sketched out their next steps.
Mr Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Mr Trump’s returns.
He has the option of eventually seeking to subpoena the records or to go to court if the IRS does not comply, but it is not clear he will adopt a more confrontational approach just yet.
“We intend to follow through with this,” Mr Neal said.
“I’ll let you know fast.”
The request for Mr Trump’s tax filings is but one of many oversight efforts launched by Democrats after taking back the House in last autumn’s midterms.
Mr Neal is relying on a 1920s-era law that says the IRS “shall furnish” any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees.
Mr Mnuchin told politicians the Treasury will “follow the law” but has not shared the department’s interpretation of the statute.
- Press Association