Crapo Statement on House Democrats’ Decision to Release Confidential Tax Information
Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) issued the following statement on House Ways and Means Democrats’ decision to release President Trump’s tax return information for multiple years:
“I am deeply concerned by recent erosions of taxpayer confidentiality and the dangerous precedent today’s release sets, which undermines confidence in both our tax laws and legislature. Taxpayers have a fundamental right to the certainty that their tax and financial information is protected, remains confidential and will not be commandeered to target political enemies or serve other partisan political aims. The very section being cited today to authorize this release was specifically intended to prevent the weaponization of taxpayer information, and it is alarming to see it being used in this way.”
The Internal Revenue Code protects the involuntary release of taxpayer information and returns, with both criminal and monetary sanctions. Key protections were put in place in the Tax Reform Act of 1976 in response to concerns that tax information and tax enforcement were being used for political reasons. A candidate’s public disclosure of his or her tax returns or return information is not mandated by any federal law.
Statutory protections of tax returns and return information require those in receipt of such to carefully safeguard the material against inadvertent or intentional release. The statute does not contemplate broadly publicizing this material. When Congress last made public protected information on a bipartisan basis in 2015 as part of a report on the IRS’s improper scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations and management failures, it did so very circumspectly, releasing only that information essential to the bipartisan report. The report strove to redact, summarize or omit protected information wherever possible. This report also did not directly focus on the taxpayer information itself, but rather made limited use of the information to explain how taxpayers had been negatively impacted and where the IRS had made mistakes. Today’s rushed, partisan process to release President Trump’s return information is a dangerous break from precedent.
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