In a letter to Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said the request "lacks a legitimate legislative goal", saying his department will not "disclose the requested returns and return information". Earlier Friday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal had said, "We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week". The Democrats have, since January, a majority in the house of representatives.
Neal's subpoenas demanded that for these years Mnuchin and Rettig turn over Trump's individual income tax returns, all "administrative files" such as affidavits for those income tax returns, and income tax returns for a number of Trump's business holdings such as the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, an umbrella entity that controls dozens of other businesses including the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
The Trump administration rejected a subpoena from House Democrats for the president's tax returns, pushing the two sides closer to a day in court.
Mnuchin sent another letter today saying they are still not handing over Trump's tax returns, stating "we have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative goal". "I think the better option for us is to proceed with a court case".
A 1924 law enacted after the Teapot Dome scandal gives the committee chairman the right to obtain any tax returns, and Neal asked for six years of Trump's personal and business returns. "State returns from [New York] would not help that investigation". "Make it part of the 2020 Election!"
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler's panel voted last week to recommend that the House cite Attorney-General William Barr for contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted Russian Federation investigation report. The same law mandates the Treasury Secretary "to furnish" the returns upon request.
As the tax return fight rages on, the White House escalated its standoff with Congress, with a blanket refusal to comply with any subpoenas for records on Trump's finances and businesses as well as for the release of the unredacted Mueller report.
Even if the Democrats' subpoena effort fails at the federal level, there is a back-up plan in the works. Trump repeatedly has claimed that his tax returns are complicated, and he has maintained that he will not release them while they are under audit by the IRS.
An attempt to enforce a subpoena related to a botched Justice Department investigation during President Barack Obama's administration extended well into the Trump administration.