Posts tagged with "House Ways and Means Committee"

Tussle over taxes: Mnuchin says Treasury Department won’t release Trump’s returns

April 12, 2019

In a move that bowed to the president rather than American values, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the Donald Trump’s tax returns by the April 10 deadline that had been specified by the House Ways and Means Committee, NBC News reports.

On the one hand, the House committee asserted that § 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code clearly states that it is entitled to receive the tax returns.

Indeed, the law dictates: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury]shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request….”

On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), said that the Treasury was continuing to review Democrats’ request in light of “serious issues” about whether the request is proper.

Neal said in a brief statement only that he had received Mnuchin’s letter and that he was consulting with legal counsel, promising a response “in the coming days.”

In filing a formal request with the Treasury Department last week, Neal had said, “I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal and oversight rights.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means hearing last month that he would protect Trump’s privacy.

 His letter went further, according to NBC News, claiming, “”The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power.” Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department about the legality and constitutionality of Neal’s request.

Mnuchin said that “for the same reasons,” he intended to supervise the department’s review personally.

The president, himself, has insisted that his tax returns are under audit and cannot be released for that reasons. However, according to the network news outlet, tax experts have said that, even if he is under audit, there’s nothing to stop Trump from releasing his returns.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on Neal’s committee, welcomed Mnuchin’s letter, warning that the request “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“The tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions,” Brady said. “The Treasury Department is right to carefully review the privacy impact this request would have on every taxpayer.”

If the request continues to be denied, NBC News said, Democrats could consider legal action.

Separately, Democrats in New York, the president’s home state, introduced a bill in the legislature on Monday that would allow the state to release any state tax return requested by the three congressional committees. The bill would apply only to Trump’s state returns—not to the federal returns that Neal is seeking—but because the president’s businesses are based there, his New York returns are thought to be likely to include much of the same information.

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘Tis the season to divide property

December 27, 2018

The holiday season traditionally brings families together, but this year it’s a different story: Divorce lawyers are celebrating a Merry Christmas, as they work overtime to help sparring spouses untie the knot before the new year, when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will change the way in which payments between ex-partners are assessed, according to a report by CBS Moneywatch.

In fact, U.S. divorce lawyers. say they’ve seen up to fourfold increases in their workloads, while courts are also staying open longer to accommodate the flurry of couples scrambling to make their splits official so they can benefit from allowances under previous tax rules.

In a memo obtained by CBS MoneyWatch, Florida Judge Tarlika Navarroof the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court recently cited the “changing tax laws” in saying she would make herself available for hearings over the Christmas holiday—including offering court extra sessions on December 27  and December 28, when the court is normally closed.

Lynne Strober, co-chair of the matrimonial and family law practice group at Mandelbaum Salsburg in Roseland, New Jersey, told CBS that she is working “crazy hours” to complete divorce settlements by year-end, noting, “Everyday I am working on getting a different case resolved,”

Under current law, the person on the hook for alimony in a divorce — typically the higher-earning spouse—can deduct those payments from his or her income, and it is the lower-earning ex who is taxed on that sum.

But, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Trump in December 2017, the tax burden shifts from the alimony recipient to the person writing the check. That could mean more revenue for the federal government—given that the payer is usually in a higher tax bracket.

In changing the tax law, the House Ways and Means Committee called the current treatment of alimony a “divorce subsidy,” the network news outlet said—arguing that “a divorced couple can often achieve a better tax result for payments between them than a married couple can.”

Dueling spouses have often separated and filed for divorces in January, after family holiday obligations are endured, but the looming tax deadline also gives couples incentive to finalize a split quickly.

Steven J. Mandel, a family law attorney based in New York City, told Moneywatch that he saw a big uptick in couples filing for divorce in June and July. In most cases, he said, his clients already had been planning—or at least considering—a divorce. “I’ve never heard a couple say, ‘Let’s get divorced to save some money on our taxes,’ ” he said.

Divorcing couples hoping to beat the clock are now at the mercy of the court system—which has a backlog of cases waiting to be heard. “We have been calling up the clerk and court personnel to see if there is any way we can get our clients’ cases expedited,” Mandel said.

Research contact: @MeganCerullo