A federal appeals court on Tuesday signed off on a House Ways and Means Committee request to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.
The 3-0 ruling from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is a blow to Trump, who has argued for years in court against releasing his tax returns to any investigators. A trial-level judge he appointed while president previously rejected his arguments in the case.
But Trump still could appeal, making the litigation unlikely to end at this time. The court said the judgment would not be issued for seven days, giving Trump time to appeal. This litigation is separate from the House select committee’s investigation into the January 6 riot.
The majority opinion, written by Circuit Judge David Sentelle, said that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for the records was within the scope of his committee’s inquiry, and the court also rejected Trump’s argument claiming that the request had a retaliatory motive, making it invalid.
Neal has requested the returns under a law that allows disclosure of an individual’s tax returns to the committee – a request that the Trump administration had rebuffed.
The appeals court on Tuesday said that Trump did not prevail in his argument that as a former President his records should not be turned over.
“In this case, the need for the Trump Parties’ information to inform potential legislation overrides the burden to the Executive Branch largely because that burden is so tenuous,” Sentelle, a Reagan appointee, wrote in the opinion.
Judge Karen Henderson, a George HW Bush appointee and Robert Wilkins, an Obama appointee, also agreed with the decision, though Henderson wrote that she believed there should be more scrutiny on a request like this that would have implications for the presidency.
The case stems lawsuit Neal filed in 2019 seeking a court order compelling the IRS, then under the Trump administration, to turn over Trump’s tax returns
The litigation moved at a slow pace that outlasted Trump’s presidency, and in July of last year, the Justice Department signaled it was switching positions in the case in favor of the committee obtaining the returns. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, last December granted requests from the department and the House to dismiss the case, prompting Trump’s appeal to the DC Circuit.
This story has been updated with additional details.