Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
March 21, 2019

CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz

CREW Calls on All 2020 Candidates to Release 10 Years of Tax Returns

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today called on all presidential candidates to release their tax returns from at least the previous ten years and launched the 2020 Tax Returns Tracker so that all Americans can compare what each candidate has released and read the publicly released returns.

“Tax returns can illuminate conflicts and can also shed important light on a president or candidate’s charitable giving and whether they are paying their fair share of taxes,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said.

The 2020 Tax Returns Tracker allows Americans to compare which candidates have released their returns publicly, which have only shown them to the press, whether they have released their full returns and how many years of tax returns they made available. It also allows readers to view and download the public returns.

“Conflicts of interest cast doubt on every decision a president makes, as the past two years have demonstrated in vivid detail,” Bookbinder said. “The public cannot have confidence in a president’s decisions or appropriately evaluate candidates when their finances remain opaque due to a refusal to release their tax returns.”

CREW has long 
advocated for presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Until President Trump, every president since Nixon had released their tax returns, finding it easy to clear the low ethical bar set by then-under audit Richard Nixon. Unfortunately, there is no law requiring them to, which is why we still have not seen President Trump’s tax returns nearly four years after he declared his candidacy for President. Proposed legislation would remedy this by requiring presidents, vice presidents, and candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns, something Noah Bookbinder recently testified in support of in Congress.

Click here to see the tracker.


Biden  |  Buttigieg  |  Gillibrand  |  Inslee  |  Harris?  |  Klobuchar  |  O'Rourke  |  Ryan  |  Sanders  |  Steyer  |  Warren

releases in reverse chron.
Tom Steyer 2020
Thursday, August 29, 2019

Tom Steyer Releases Tax Returns

(SAN FRANCISCO, August 29, 2019)—Today, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor are releasing their personal federal and California tax returns, charitable tax returns, and political tax returns on his website. Tom and Kat have committed to release 10 years of tax returns. Records for 2009-2017, are available on the website now and records from 2018 will be available on the website later this year, after they are filed with the Internal Revenue Service. All of the financial documents can be found at

The documents released provide the American public with a clear picture of their personal finances, charitable giving, and political spending. They also includes four full years while Steyer was still head of Farallon Capital Management, the company he founded more than 30 years ago.

“This level of financial disclosure is unparalleled for a presidential candidate,” said Steyer Campaign Manager Heather Hargreaves. “Tom is releasing his tax returns now because he believes in providing transparency at all levels of government which includes elected officials. The documents he is releasing also provide voters with an understanding of his role in the private sector, which he has since left behind seven years ago to work for the public good.”

Additionally, Steyer is filing his personal financial disclosure (PFD) with the United States Office of Government Ethics which will be available on the transparency page as soon as the disclosure has been reviewed and certified by the Office. 

A memo outlining Steyer’s financial activities can be also found on the page. The memo highlights the couple’s tax information and contributions to charity and political causes, including:

  • From 2009-2017, Steyer and Taylor have paid $405.3 million in federal and state taxes. Their overall total effective tax rate of federal and state taxes paid averaged 40.5%.
  • Steyer and Taylor have distributed more than $190 million in charitable contributions from 2009-2017, both through their charitable foundations and direct giving. (They do not count any of their political contributions toward their Giving Pledge promise to give away the majority of their wealth to charitable pursuits during their lifetime.)
  • Steyer’s political activities from 2009-2017 totaled $365.6 million, and include contributions to federal and state candidates, federal and state committees, 501(c)(4) contributions to NextGen, and Need to Impeach spending. 

In 2010, Steyer and Taylor took the Giving Pledge — committing to give the vast bulk of their wealth to charitable pursuits during their lifetime. Since then, the couple have distributed more than $190 million in charitable contributions from 2009-2017, both through their charitable foundations and direct giving. Tax returns for their charitable foundations — TomKat Foundation, TomKat Charitable Trust, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, and the Beneficial State Foundation  — can be found on the transparency page under each respective year. The couple make most of their grants from their foundations — which distribute grants on an annual basis, separately from when they commit money to their foundations. Therefore, their total annual charitable giving is greater than the amount reported on their individual Form 1040.


Biden for President
July 9, 2019

Biden for President Makes Public Vice President Biden’s Financial Disclosure Form and Tax Returns

Today, Biden for President made public Vice President Joe Biden’s financial disclosure form (OGE Form 278), as well as tax returns for 2016-2018. Today’s releases, in combination with the ten years of taxes he released during the campaign in 2008 and his regular release as Vice President, mean that Vice President Biden has now made public the last 21 years of tax returns – more than any other candidate currently running for president.

After leaving office in 2017, Vice President Biden pledged to remain engaged on the issues that have animated his career. In the two years between the end of the Obama-Biden Administration and the announcement of his candidacy for president, he did exactly that, working with a variety of institutions to generate ideas on how we can help rebuild the American middle class, strengthen American global leadership, and end cancer as we know it.

During that time Vice President Biden earned income as the University of Pennsylvania Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor, through sales of his 2017 book Promise Me, Dad, and through select public speaking events, including literary events around the book release, subscription-based speakers series, and university events funded by dedicated funds or endowments. Every one of his speaking engagements was public, and more than half were also open to the press.

Vice President Biden pledged after leaving office that if he were to become a candidate for higher office, he would make available his tax returns, financial interests, and other information that used to be, and should once again become, commonplace among candidates for President of the United States – including the current occupant of that office.

The documents are available at and here:

2016 Federal Tax Return
2016 Delaware Tax Return
2017 Federal Tax Return
2017 Delaware Tax Return
2018 Federal Tax Return
2018 Delaware Tax Return
OGE Form 218e

Tax Returns & Financial Disclosure

The Bidens’ joint tax returns reflect the following income and charitable giving:

In 2016, the Bidens’ income was primarily attributable to Vice President Biden’s salary as Vice President and Dr. Biden’s salary as a Professor at Northern Virginia Community College. 

In 2017 and 2018, Dr. Biden continued to be employed as a Professor at Northern Virginia Community College, for which she earned $90,132 (in 2017) and $94,705 (in 2018). Vice President Biden was named the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, for which he earned $371,159 (in 2017) and $405,368 (in 2018).

The majority of the couple’s 2017 and 2018 income--specifically, $10,048,739 (in 2017) and $3,236,764 (in 2018)--is attributable to book payments for the writing of Promise Me, Dad and Where the Light Enters and to paid speaking engagements. These amounts were paid to Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden through their respective S-Corporations, known as CelticCapri and Giacoppa. Both Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden employed staff and engaged contractors to support their respective work through their S-Corporations.

  • S-Corporations are a common method for taxpayers who have outside sources of income to consolidate their earnings and expenses. The income, losses, and deductions flow through to the taxpayer’s personal income tax returns, meaning the taxpayer (here, the Bidens), rather than the S-Corporation, pays the taxes on the income earned.  
Following a comprehensive review of the Bidens’ tax filings for 2016 through 2018, the returns for tax years 2017 and 2018 were amended. The 2017 return inadvertently double-counted a charitable contribution (a $3,000 donation to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and failed to include the W-2 income and associated withholdings from the final three weeks of the Vice Presidency. The 2017 return was amended to address these issues, and required $1,666 in additional tax payments ($1,118 attributable to the double-counted contribution, and $478 attributable to the omission of the W-2 income and associated withholdings). The 2018 return included a deduction for a $25,000 contribution to Walking with the Wounded, a British charity for service members associated with Prince Harry. Because that contribution was given directly to the British charity, and not to an American affiliate with a 501(c)(3) designation, no deduction was available to be taken. The 2018 return remedied that issue, resulting in an additional $9,250 in federal tax payments. Corresponding amendments were made to the Bidens’ Delaware state returns. 

The financial disclosure, known as the Office of Government Ethics Form 278, covers the time period from January 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019. It requires certain assets to be identified within a range of values (e.g., $1,000 to $15,000; $250,000 to $500,000).

  • Excluding retirement plans, it shows that the Bidens hold between $500,000 and $1.2 million in cash. They continue to hold the same investments and life insurance policies that they did while in office.
  • The Bidens’ S-Corporations (CelticCapri and Giacoppa) are worth between $1 and $5 million and $500,000 and $1 million, respectively. Those amounts are attributable to each entity’s bank account balances. Income taxes have already been paid by the Bidens on assets currently held by the S-Corporations.
  • The Form 278 reflects that Vice President Biden earned approximately $3.2 million through his S-Corporation during the pertinent time period.  Consistent with Office of Government Ethics guidance, where those earnings are attributable to speaking fees, each appearance is separately listed on the form.  Forty-seven appearances are listed, 30 of which were a part of the book tour for Promise Me Dad. All together, the fees totaled $4.29 million.  These fees--less expenses and applicable taxes--are reflected in Form 278 entries for Celtic Capri, both the income earned from it and the assets currently held by it.
  • During the pertinent time period, Dr. Biden also earned income from speaking fees through her S-Corporation. The Form 278 lists 18 paid speaking engagements, with fees totaling just over $700,000.
  • The Form 278 reflects that the Bidens have minimal debt. Two lines of credit, each less than $50,000, are disclosed in Part 8.

Pete for America
April 30, 2019

Mayor Pete Releases Ten Years of Tax Returns

SOUTH BEND, IN - Today, Mayor Pete released his past ten years of tax returns. They can be found here.


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Tim Ryan for America
April 29, 2019

Congressman Tim Ryan Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns

Less Than One Month After Announcing His Presidential Bid, Congressman Ryan Demonstrates His Commitment to Unity Built on Trust and Honesty by Releasing His Tax Returns from 2009 – 2018

YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Demonstrating his staunch commitment to transparency and honesty with the American people, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today released one decade of his tax returns. The release comes less than one month after launching his presidential bid, and nine months ahead of the 2020 caucuses and primaries.
“Full and complete transparency with the American people is paramount to Congressman Tim Ryan,” said a spokesperson for Tim Ryan for America. “He understands that unity is built on trust earned with honesty and respect. While President Trump’s lies are designed to fracture our communities and distract from his own failures – Tim Ryan knows that America is stronger. And he’s committed to restoring the unity and trust our country deserves.”
Below are Congressman Ryan’s tax returns from 2009 through 2018:
Beto for America
Monday, April 15, 2019

Beto O’Rourke Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns 

  EL PASO, TEXAS — Beto O’Rourke publicly released ten years of his personal tax returns today. Full copies of the tax returns are available here.

As a candidate aspiring to restore the American people’s trust in the nation’s highest office, O’Rourke will also release his 2018 tax returns as soon as possible after they are filed. This follows his commitment to increasing accountability and transparency while in the House of Representatives when he held monthly public town halls back in his district where any person could ask any question. Just as he did while visiting each one of the 254 counties of Texas, O’Rourke continues to run a grassroots, people-powered campaign that rejects all money and influence from political action committees, corporations, lobbyists and special interest groups.


Bernie 2020
April 15, 2019

Sanders Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns 9 Months Before Caucuses, Primaries Begin

Voluntary disclosure follows nearly 30 years of annual financial disclosures; Vermont senator urges President Trump to follow suit

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today released 10 years of tax returns including his 2018return. The release, nine months before the first votes are cast, recognizes the changing expectations that all candidates, not just nominees, should release their taxes. 

The Sanders’ tax returns, which are straightforward and uncomplicated with few additional forms or deductions, are in addition to the financial disclosures that Sanders has released every year since 1991.

“These tax returns show that our family has been fortunate. I am very grateful for that, as I grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck and I know the stress of economic insecurity. That is why I strive every day to ensure every American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent housing, health care and retirement security.” Sanders said. “I consider paying more in taxesas my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country.  I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people.” 

During his 2016 campaign, Sanders released what was then his most recent tax return (2014), and promised to release additional years if he were the nominee – as was standard practice at the time. 

“Bernie Sanders has been filing detailed financial disclosures for almost 30 years, and he is proud to voluntarily make these tax returns available many months before the election, “ said campaign manager Faiz Shakir. “Senator Sanders believes it is a privilege to live in the United States and he believes it is patriotic to pay the taxes that support our country. As a strong proponent of transparency, the senator hopes President Trump and all Democratic primary candidates will disclose their tax returns.”

Some key details from Sanders’ tax returns include:

  • In 2018, Sanders’ adjusted gross income was $561,293. He paid a 26 percent effective taxrate on that adjusted gross income. In 2016 and 2017, when Sanders also earned significant income from his books, his effective tax rate was 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Their itemized deductions primarily consisted of mortgage interest, property taxes and charitable deductions. 
  • The returns reflect that the Sanders’ primary sources of income over most of those years were Senator Sanders’ Senate salary and proceeds from his writing. 
  • In 2016, the Sanders’ income increased substantially due to advances and royalties from his best-selling book Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In, which has been translated into 5 languages and published in a number of countries. The youth version of Our Revolution, the publication of Where We Go From Here and an advance on a book currently being written by Jane Sanders, are also reflected in the tax filings.
  • In 2018, the Sanders donated 3.4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity. Overall, their charitable giving does not account for additional charitable proceeds from one of Sanders’ books, The Speech, which are donated directly to charity. The Sanders do not take a tax deduction for those contributions, so they do not show up on their tax returns. The Sanders’ donations have gone primarily to senior centers, low-income organizations, educational entities, and environmental and housing advocacy groups. 
 For more click here.


Gillibrand 2020
April 15, 2019

On Tax Day, Gillibrand Reissues Challenge to Democratic Field to Release Taxes

Applauds those who joined her in releasing at least ten years of returns
On Tax Day, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand reissued her challenge to the 2020 Democratic field to release at least ten years of their federal tax returns. Gillibrand emphasized that doing so will provide the American people with a stark contrast between the Democratic field's commitment to transparency and accountability, and President Trump's efforts to obstruct and suppress the release of his tax returns.

"Transparency and accountability are critical tools to combat the corrupting influence of money in politics, which is why three weeks ago I released my 2018 federal tax return, adding to the eleven-years worth that were already available online," said Senator Gillibrand. "At the time, I challenged the entire Democratic field to do the same, and I'm encouraged that several candidates have followed suit. Today, on TaxDay, I am reissuing my call for the remaining Democratic candidates to release at least ten years of federal tax returns, which will provide a clear contrast with President Trump, and demonstrate that the next president will only be beholden to the American people." 

On March 27, Gillibrand became the first 2020 presidential candidate to release her 2018 tax return. She has 12 years of her tax returns available online, dating back to 2007, her first year in public office. The same day, Gillibrand issued a challenge to the Democratic field to join her, and several followed her lead, including:
Gillibrand is leading the Democratic field on transparency, a prerogative that started long before her run for president. Gillibrand was the first Member of Congress to post a “Sunlight Report” that included her official schedule, Personal Financial Disclosures and earmark requests online. Gillibrand also wrote and secured the passage of the STOCK Act in 2012, which finally made it illegal for members of Congress, their families and their staff to profit from insider information gained through public service.


Amy for America
April 15, 2019

As Trump Visits Minnesota Today, Klobuchar Releases 2018 Tax Returns and Calls on the President to Follow Suit and Finally Release His Own Tax Returns

Klobuchar previously released 12 years of tax returns for every year since she has been a candidate for federal office

Minneapolis, MN -- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today released her 2018 tax returns after releasing 12 years of tax returns - every year since she has been a candidate for federal office - earlier this month.

As Donald Trump heads to Minnesota on Tax Day, Klobuchar called on the President to finally release his tax returns. “I believe in transparency and accountability -- that’s why I’ve released my tax returns and why I’m calling on Donald Trump to finally release his tax returns and quit hiding from the American people,” Klobuchar said.

Yesterday, Klobuchar held a press conference in Minneapolis to highlight how the President prioritized giving tax breaks to the wealthy over making investments in our country’s crumbling infrastructure. She outlined her plan to rebuild our country’s infrastructure and strengthen our economy by repairing our roads, bridges, levees, airports and schools, as well as overhauling our water infrastructure and connecting every household to high-speed internet by 2022.

View of all Sen. Klobuchar’s tax returns here. 

Kamala for the People
April 14, 2019

...lots of articles;seeking direct response from the campaign

Warren for President
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Warren Releases 2018 Tax Returns

In August 2018, Warren released 10 years of tax returns

Charlestown, MA - Today, Elizabeth Warren released her full 2018 tax returns. She released a full ten years of her tax returns last August. Warren has introduced the most sweeping anti-corruption bill since Watergate that requires the IRS to release tax returns of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates from the previous eight years and during each year in federal elected office.

“There’s a crisis of faith in government -- and that’s because the American people think the government works for the wealthy and well-connected, not for them. And they’re right. I’ve put out eleven years of my tax returns because no one should ever have to guess who their elected officials are working for. Doing this should be law,” said Warren.

In addition to requiring the IRS to release tax returns of Presidential, Vice-Presidential, and Congressional candidates and office-holders, Warren’s anti-corruption legislation prohibits all government officials from holding or trading stock; applies the conflict of interest laws to the President and Vice President through the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act; and requires senior government officials to divest from privately-owned assets that could present conflicts, including large companies and commercial real estate.

Link to 2018 tax returns here.
Link to 2017-2008 tax returns here.

Inslee for America
Friday, March 29, 2019

On Fox and Friends, Inslee Calls on Donald Trump To Release His Tax Returns

Gov. Jay Inslee today released 12 years of tax returns,called on other 2020ers to do the same

Seattle - Today, on Fox and Friends, the President’s favorite television show, Governor Jay Inslee called on President Trump, and the rest of the 2020 field to release their tax returns. This morning, Inslee, in his commitment to transparency on the campaign trail, released 12 years of his personal taxreturns online for all Americans to see.
Inslee has long released his tax returns when running for high office. He had previously released 8 years of tax returns: He released five years of returns during his gubernatorial campaign in 2012 and three additional years in his reelection bid in 2016.
Last week, Governor Inslee announced his support for current state legislation in Washington that would require a Presidential candidate to release at least 5 years of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot.
“Anyone hoping to serve the American people needs to earn their trust,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “President Trump’s blatant disregard for transparency and his disrespect toward voters is disgusting and cannot be repeated. Today, I released 12 years of personal tax returns because it is the right thing to do and because it should be the expected thing to do. I call on President Trump and other 2020 presidential candidates to follow me in this commitment to transparency.”
Gillibrand 2020


Gillibrand is First Presidential Candidate to Release Tax Returns; Urges Other Presidential Candidates to Follow Suit
Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released her 2018 tax returns to the public, making her the first presidential candidate to take this key step towards accountability and transparency.  Gillibrand now has 12 years' worth of tax returns available online, dating back to 2007, her first year in public office. Gillibrand urged every other presidential candidate to join her in disclosing their latest taxes.
“For public servants, releasing your tax returns shows the American people that you work only for them, not the powerful. I’m proud to be the first presidential candidate to release my latest returns, and take that critical step towards transparency,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand continued, “Since my first day in the House, I have prioritized transparency and accountability. Not only was I the first member of Congress to post my schedule, earmark requests and personal financial disclosures online, but I wrote the law that makes it illegal for members of Congress to profit off of their public service.

“Transparency is an essential tool to combat the corrupting influence of money in politics. The American people should know that their president is beholden to no one but them, and I’m urging all presidential candidates to join me and disclose at least ten years of their taxes, which will strengthen our ability to beat President Trump.” 

Since her first day in the House, Senator Gillibrand has led the way on transparency and accountability for elected officials. She was the first Member of Congress to post a “Sunlight Report” that included her official schedule, Personal Financial Disclosures and earmark requests online. The New York Times called these efforts “a quiet touch of revolution" in Washington at the time.

Gillibrand also wrote and secured the passage of the STOCK Act in 2012, which finally made it illegal for members of Congress, their families and their staff to profit from insider information gained through public service. At the time, The Washington Post called it “the most substantial debate on Congressional ethics in nearly five years.”

Gillibrand is the first of the current 2020 candidates to post more than ten years-worth oftaxes online, including her 2018 returns. Since 2012, she’s posted her tax returns annually.
Twelve years of Gillibrand’s taxes, including her 2018 returns, are available here:

Toplines of Gillibrand 2018 Taxes Below:

2018 Tax Return Toplines

Adjusted Gross Income


Federal Taxes


Effective Tax Rate


State Taxes


Business Income


Capital Gains


Charitable Contributions


House Ways and Means Committee

May 17, 2019


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement after Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with a subpoena for six years of the President’s personal and business tax returns:
“Last Friday, I issued subpoenas to the Treasury Secretary and IRS Commissioner after they refused to comply with the law. Issuance of these subpoenas should not have been necessary. The law provides clear statutory authority for the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to request and receive access to tax returns and return information. The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information. Given the Treasury Secretary’s failure to comply today, I am consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward.”

May 6, 2019


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways & Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed him that the IRS would not furnish the requested six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns:
“Today, Secretary Mnuchin notified me that the IRS will not provide the documents I requested under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”


April 23, 2019


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways & Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed him that the IRS would not meet the April 23 deadline to furnish six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns:
“This afternoon, Secretary Mnuchin notified me that once again, the IRS will miss the deadline for my 6103 request. I plan to consult with counsel about my next steps.”


April 13, 2019


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) sent the following letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig after the IRS missed the April 10, 2019 deadline to furnish six years of the President’s personal and business tax returns. 

Full text of the letter is available HERE and below. 

The Honorable Charles P. Rettig
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20224

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

On April 3, 2019, pursuant to my authority under section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), I requested that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) furnish certain return and return information by April 10, 2019.  As I explained in my earlier letter, that request is in furtherance of consideration by the Committee on Ways and Means (“Committee”) of legislative proposals and oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President.   

I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request and the authority of the Committee.  Those concerns lack merit.  Moreover, judicial precedent commands that none of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the Committee’s request.   

First, it bears noting that the statutory language of section 6103(f) is unambiguous and raises no complicated legal issues that warrant supervision or review by the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) or the Department of Justice (“Justice”).  Section 6103(f) commands that “[u]pon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives . . . the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.”  26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1) (emphasis added).  It is a well-established principle of statutory interpretation that words that are neither terms of art nor statutorily defined be given their ordinary meaning.  Here, the statute’s use of the “mandatory ‘shall’ . . . creates an obligation impervious to judicial discretion.”  Lexecon, Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, 523 U.S. 26, 35 (1998); see also, e.g., EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, 572 U.S. 489, 509 (2014); Barnhart v. Sigmon Coal Co., 534 U.S. 438, 461-62 (2002) (courts “must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

Second, there is no valid basis to question the legitimacy of the Committee’s legislative purpose here.  The Supreme Court has instructed that Congress’s power to investigate is “broad” and “encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.”  Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 187 (1957).  

It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information.  Indeed, the Supreme Court has consistently noted that the motivations underlying Congressional action are not to be second guessed, even by the courts.  Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 509 (1975) (“The wisdom of congressional approach or methodology is not open to judicial veto.”); Watkins, 354 U.S. at 200 (“But a solution to our problem is not to be found in testing the motives of committee members for this purpose.  Such is not our function.”); Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 132 (1959) (“So long as Congress acts in pursuance of its constitutional power, the Judiciary lacks authority to intervene on the basis of the motives which spurred the exercise of that power.”).  

Courts have held that, where “a rational legislative purpose is present for investigating a particular person, organization, or institution[,] [t]here is no requirement that every piece of information gathered in such an investigation be justified before the judiciary.” McSurely v. McClellan, 521 F.2d 1024, 1041 (D.C. Cir. 1975); see also Townsend v. United States, 95 F.2d 352, 361 (D.C. Cir. 1938).  “A legislative inquiry may be as broad, as searching, and as exhaustive as is necessary to make effective the constitutional powers of Congress.”  Townsend, 95 F.2d at 361.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court has expressly recognized that “[t]o be a valid legislative inquiry there need be no predictable end result.” Eastland, 421 U.S. at 509.  

Third, concerns about what the Committee may do with the tax returns and return information are baseless.  As my April 3rd letter noted, this request falls squarely within the Committee’s oversight authority.  It is well-established law in the D.C. Circuit that “[t]he presumption of regularity supports the official acts of public officers and, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, courts presume that they have properly discharged their official duties.” Sussman v. U.S. Marshals Serv., 494 F.3d 1106, 1117 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (citation omitted); Exxon Corp. v. FTC, 589 F.2d 582, 589 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (“committees of Congress will exercise their powers responsibly and with due regard for the rights of affected parties.”).  In other words, the IRS, Treasury, and Justice must assume that the Committee Members, like all government officials, will act properly in the conduct of their official duties.  

To date, the IRS has failed to provide the requested return and return information despite an unambiguous legal obligation to do so under section 6103(f).  I expect a reply from the IRS by 5:00 p.m. on April 23, 2019.  Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


The Honorable Richard E. Neal, Chairman