Report text available as:

(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?



115th Congress    }                                     {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                     {       115-73

======================================================================



 
   RESOLUTION OF INQUIRY DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TO 
   PROVIDE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THE TAX RETURNS AND OTHER 
      SPECIFIED FINANCIAL INFORMATION OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP

                                _______
                                

   March 30, 2017.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Brady of Texas, from the Committee on Ways and Means, submitted the 
                               following

                             ADVERSE REPORT

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                       [To accompany H. Res. 186]

    The Committee on Ways and Means, to whom was referred the 
resolution (H. Res. 186) of inquiry directing the Secretary of 
the Treasury to provide to the House of Representatives the tax 
returns and other specified financial information of President 
Donald J. Trump, having considered the same, report unfavorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the resolution not 
be agreed to.






                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND...........................................2
          A. Purpose and Summary.................................     2
          B. Background and Need for Legislation.................     2
          C. Legislative History.................................     4
 II. EXPLANATION OF THE BILL..........................................4
III. VOTES OF THE COMMITTEE...........................................4
 IV. BUDGET EFFECTS OF THE BILL.......................................5
          A. Committee Estimate of Budgetary Effects.............     5
          B. Statement Regarding New Budget Authority and Tax 
              Expenditures Budget Authority......................     5
          C. Cost Estimate Prepared by the Congressional Budget 
              Office.............................................     5
  V. OTHER MATTERS TO BE DISCUSSED UNDER THE RULES OF THE HOUSE.......5
          A. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations....     5
          B. Statement of General Performance Goals and 
              Objectives.........................................     5
          C. Information Relating to Unfunded Mandates...........     5
          D. Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and 
              Limited Tariff Benefits............................     5
          E. Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     5
          F. Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings.................     6
 VI. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED............6
VII. DISSENTING VIEWS.................................................7

                       I. SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND


                         A. Purpose and Summary

    H. Res. 186, requests that the Secretary of the Treasury 
provide the House of Representatives with ten years of tax 
returns and other financial information of President Donald J. 
Trump.

                 B. Background and Need for Legislation

    On March 9, 2017, H. Res. 186 was introduced by 
Representative Bill Pascrell. H. Res. 186 is a resolution of 
inquiry, which is a means infrequently used by the House of 
Representatives designed to obtain certain factual information 
from the Executive Branch. Under clause 7 of Rule XIII, a 
resolution of inquiry is subject to a motion to discharge from 
committee if the resolution is not reported by the committee to 
which it was referred within 14 legislative days of its 
introduction.\1\ Accordingly, the Committee on Ways and Means 
scheduled a markup of H. Res. 186 within the 14-day period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Rules of the House of Representatives Rule XIII, clause 7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Committee reported the resolution unfavorably because, 
among other flaws, the resolution asks the Secretary of the 
Treasury to break the law by disclosing the tax returns of the 
President directly to the House of Representatives. 
Furthermore, it would set a dangerous precedent by targeting a 
single individual's confidential tax returns and associated 
financial documents for disclosure.
    This resolution asks the Secretary of the Treasury to 
deliver tax returns and return information to the House of 
Representatives, which would be a violation of current law. 
Section 6103(a) of the Internal Revenue Code sets out the 
general rule that all tax returns and return information are to 
be kept confidential unless explicitly authorized in 
statute.\2\ The Code authorizes a handful of exceptions to the 
general rule of confidentiality, such as for criminal 
investigations relating to a missing or exploited child.\3\ 
Congress is authorized to receive tax returns and return 
information under a codified exception, but only under certain 
circumstances.\4\ Specifically, after a written request by the 
Ways and Means Committee Chairman, the information is to be 
furnished to the Committee ``only when sitting in closed 
executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in 
writing to such disclosure.''\5\ The Code does not authorize 
the House of Representatives to receive confidential tax 
returns and return information from the Secretary of the 
Treasury, as H. Res. 186 directs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103(a) (2012).
    \3\See generally 26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103 (2012).
    \4\26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103(f) (2012).
    \5\26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103(f)(1) (2012); see also 26 U.S.C. 
Sec. 6103(f)(3) (2012) (authorizing non-tax writing committees to 
receive tax returns and return information only when sitting in closed 
executive session).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition to being legally flawed, H. Res. 186 would set 
a dangerous precedent. At times, this Committee has sought the 
tax returns and return information of individuals as a part of 
our legislative responsibility to oversee the tax code; 
however, the purpose of this resolution is to single out one 
individual. Such action would be the first time the Committee 
exercised its authority to wade into the confidential tax 
information of an individual with no tie to any investigation 
within our jurisdiction. Some Members have suggested there is a 
precedent for this--that the tax-writing committees used the 
authority granted under Section 6103(f) to access and review 
President Nixon's tax returns in 1973. However, such assertions 
are not supported by the facts. The facts are these: President 
Nixon voluntarily released his own tax returns and he also 
requested a review of them by the Joint Committee on 
Taxation.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\John Herbers, ``Voluminous Data,'' The New York Times, Dec. 9, 
1973.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Not only would targeting an individual in this manner be an 
abuse of authority, it would also be an invasion of privacy. 
Tax returns contain highly confidential and sensitive 
information and Congress has rightly put high walls around this 
information's disclosure. There is no exception under current 
law for the disclosure of confidential personal tax return 
information for purposes of embarrassing or attacking political 
figures of another party. Those very sorts of partisan attacks 
were the motivation for Congress' enacting changes in the Tax 
Reform Act of 1976 that comprise current law and are designed 
to protect taxpayers' privacy.\7\ Directing the Secretary of 
the Treasury to now break current law by violating the 
confidentiality of tax return information is profoundly 
misdirected.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\See 122 Cong. Rec. 24012-13 (July 27, 1976) (statement of Sen. 
Dole) (``I cannot stress enough the importance of preserving the 
confidentiality of individual tax returns. These reforms respond in 
part to the challenge we face as public officials--the restoration of 
public trust in Government and Government officials. Past abuses and 
lax administration demonstrate the need for reform of the Nation's 
income tax system so that doubts in the public mind about the integrity 
of the Internal Revenue Service can be dispelled. . .. The tax return 
privacy provisions of this bill balance Government's need for tax 
return information with the citizens' right of privacy.'')
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Furthermore, as was made clear in the Committee's markup, 
there is no legal requirement in the Code for the President to 
release his tax returns. While this may be the practice that 
recent Presidential candidates have followed, each has done so 
voluntarily, and not because he or she was bound by law to do 
so.
    In addition to its other flaws, the resolution amounts to a 
fishing expedition. As debate during the markup highlighted, 
the information sought by the supporters of H. Res. 186 would 
not appear on the President's tax returns in the first place. A 
recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service 
notes that resolutions of inquiry are increasingly a tool used 
by the minority to score partisan points and get Members ``on 
the record with difficult policy votes.''\8\ The rhetoric 
employed at the Committee's markup--with references to fascism, 
tyranny, and a victim being stabbed in the face with a 
margarita glass--reinforced the perception that this 
legislation is little more than a partisan political exercise.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\Christopher M. Davis, Cong. Research Serv., R40879, Resolutions 
of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2011, at 9-10 
(2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                         C. Legislative History


Background

    H. Res. 186 was introduced by Representative Bill Pascrell 
on March 9, 2017, and was referred to the Committee on Ways and 
Means.

Committee hearings

    The Committee held no hearings on H. Res. 186.

Committee action

    The Committee on Ways and Means marked up H. Res. 186 on 
March 28, 2017, and ordered the bill unfavorably reported (with 
a quorum being present).

                      II. EXPLANATION OF THE BILL

    H. Res. 186 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to 
provide to the House of Representatives the tax returns and 
other specified financial information of President Donald J. 
Trump.

                      III. VOTES OF THE COMMITTEE

    In compliance with the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the following statement is made concerning the 
vote of the Committee on Ways and Means during the markup 
consideration of H. Res. 186, ``Of inquiry directing the 
Secretary of the Treasury to provide to the House of 
Representatives the tax returns and other specified financial 
information of President Donald J. Trump,'' on March 28, 2017.
    The resolution was ordered unfavorably transmitted to the 
House by a roll call vote of 24 yeas and 16 nays (with a quorum 
being present). The vote was as follows:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Representative             Yea       Nay     Present     Representative       Yea       Nay     Present
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Brady......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Neal..........  ........        X   ........
Mr. Johnson....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Levin.........  ........        X   ........
Mr. Nunes......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Lewis.........  ........        X   ........
Mr. Tiberi.....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Doggett.......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Reichert...................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Thompson......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Roskam.....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Larson........  ........        X   ........
Mr. Buchanan...................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Blumenauer....  ........        X   ........
Mr. Smith (NE).................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Kind..........  ........        X   ........
Ms. Jenkins....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Pascrell......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Paulsen....................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Crowley.......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Marchant...................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Davis.........  ........        X   ........
Ms. Black......................        X   ........  .........  Ms. Sanchez.......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Reed.......................        X   ........  .........  Mr. Higgins.......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Kelly......................        X   ........  .........  Ms. Sewell........  ........        X   ........
Mr. Renacci....................        X   ........  .........  Ms. DelBene.......  ........        X   ........
Mr. Meehan.....................        X   ........  .........  Ms. Chu...........  ........        X   ........
Ms. Noem.......................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Holding....................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Smith (MO).................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Rice.......................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Schweikert.................        X   ........  .........
Ms. Walorski...................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Curbelo....................        X   ........  .........
Mr. Bishop.....................        X   ........  .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                     IV. BUDGET EFFECTS OF THE BILL


               A. Committee Estimate of Budgetary Effects

    Clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable.

B. Statement Regarding New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures Budget 
                               Authority

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable.

      C. Cost Estimate Prepared by the Congressional Budget Office

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
Congressional Budget Office did not provide a cost estimate for 
the resolution.

     V. OTHER MATTERS TO BE DISCUSSED UNDER THE RULES OF THE HOUSE


          A. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    With respect to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee made findings and 
recommendations that are reflected in this report.

        B. Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    With respect to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
bill does not authorize funding, so no statement of general 
performance goals and objectives is required.

              C. Information Relating to Unfunded Mandates

    This information is provided in accordance with section 423 
of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. No. 104-
4).
    The Committee has determined that the bill does not contain 
Federal mandates on the private sector. The Committee has 
determined that the bill does not impose a Federal 
intergovernmental mandate on State, local, or tribal 
governments.

  D. Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
                                Benefits

    With respect to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee has carefully reviewed 
the provisions of the bill, and states that the provisions of 
H. Res. 186 do not contain any congressional earmarks, limited 
tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits within the meaning of 
the rule.

                   E. Duplication of Federal Programs

    In compliance with Sec. 3(g)(2) of H. Res. 5 (115th 
Congress), the Committee states that no provision of H. Res. 
186 establishes or reauthorizes: (1) a program of the Federal 
Government known to be duplicative of another Federal program; 
(2) a program included in any report from the Government 
Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of 
Public Law 111-139; or (3) a program related to a program 
identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance, published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Pub. L. No. 95-220, as amended by Pub. L. No. 
98-169).

                 F. Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    In compliance with Sec. 3(i) of H. Res. 5 (115th Congress), 
the following statement is made concerning directed rule 
makings: The Committee estimates that H. Res. 186 specifically 
directs to be completed no specific rule makings within the 
meaning of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 551.

       VI. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that H. 
Res. 186 would not make any changes to existing law.

                         VII. DISSENTING VIEWS

    Committee Democrats strongly oppose the Committee's action 
of unfavorably reporting H. Res. 186, Resolution of inquiry 
directing the Secretary of the Treasury to provide to the House 
of Representatives the tax returns and other specified 
financial information of President Donald J. Trump. Committee 
Republicans continue to block our requests for this Committee 
to exercise its authority under Section 6103 of the Internal 
Revenue Code to obtain, examine, and make available to the 
public President Trump's federal tax returns.
    This Committee has broad jurisdiction over a variety of 
laws that affect the lives of millions of Americans, including 
the federal tax law. The President and Congressional 
Republicans have been very vocal regarding their desire to 
enact comprehensive tax reform this Congress. Committee 
Democrats believe that it is imperative for the public to know 
and understand how such tax reform will benefit the President, 
his 564 financial positions in domestic and foreign 
companies,\1\ and his self-reported net worth of more than $10 
billion.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\http://pfds.opensecrets.org/N00023864_2015_Pres.pdf.
    \2\www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/24/donald-trump-net-worth-
10-billion-campaign-manager/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Since the early 1970s, all presidents, Republican and 
Democrat, have chosen to release their individual tax returns 
with the exception of Republican Gerald Ford who released a tax 
summary.\3\ These presidents include: Richard Nixon (4 years), 
Jimmy Carter (3 years), Ronald Reagan (6 years), George Bush (3 
years), Bill Clinton (8 years), George W. Bush (8 years), and 
Barack Obama (16 years). In recent years, presidential 
candidates and their vice-presidential candidates also have 
released their individual tax returns, including Hillary 
Clinton (16 years), Tim Kaine (9 years), Mitt Romney (2 years), 
and Paul Ryan (2 years).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/web/
presidentialtaxreturns.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tax returns provide the clearest picture of a president's 
financial health, including how much he earns, how much tax he 
pays, his sources of income (e.g., capital gains, dividend 
income, and certain business income), the size of his 
deductions, whether he makes charitable contributions, and 
whether he uses tax shelters, loopholes, or other special-
interest provisions to his advantage. All of these items are 
critical in order for the public to gain a more complete 
understanding of how tax reform will benefit President Trump 
and his vast business empire.
    If ever there was a president with respect to which this 
Committee should exercise its Section 6103 statutory authority 
to obtain individual tax returns, President Trump is the one. A 
president with a vast domestic and international business 
empire. A president who has rebuked over 40 years of tradition 
and refused to release his individual tax returns to the 
public. A president who will negotiate and ultimately may sign 
comprehensive tax reform into law. A president who is not the 
average American--he has assets, business interests, and 
foreign entanglements that far surpass the average taxpayer. 
Moreover, the Constitution of the United States, in Article II, 
vests the power of the Executive Branch exclusively in the 
president. The Constitution of the United States, in Article I, 
vests in him with the sole authority to sign bills into law. No 
other American has such power. Hence, Committee Democrats 
remain steadfast in our pursuit to have his individual tax 
returns disclosed to the public.
    Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called 
on President Trump to release his tax returns. Starting in 
February, Committee Democrats began pressing Committee 
Republicans to use the authority under Section 6103 to obtain 
President Trump's tax returns and make them available to the 
public. Committee Democrats have sent letters urging, and 
offered amendments to force, the Chairman to obtain President 
Trump's tax returns for review by the Committee. The Chairman 
and Committee Republicans have refused to act and voted down 
our amendments on party lines.
    There is no doubt that the Chairman has the power to obtain 
President Trump's tax returns for review by the Committee. With 
respect to this Committee, Section 6103(f)(1) provides that, 
upon written request from the Chairman, the Treasury Secretary 
shall furnish to the Committee any return or return information 
specified in the written request. However, any information that 
can be associated with a particular taxpayer shall be furnished 
to the Committee only when sitting in closed executive session 
unless the taxpayer consents otherwise in writing to such 
disclosure. Section 6103(f)(4)(A) further provides that any 
return or return information obtained by or on behalf of the 
Committee pursuant to this section may be submitted by the 
Committee to the House. Procedurally, upon submission to the 
House, the tax return and return information would become 
available to the public. Committee Republicans used these 
exceptions in the past to release confidential taxpayer 
information.
    In closing, there is nothing in Section 6103 that prohibits 
a taxpayer from releasing his own tax returns or consenting to 
the disclosure of such tax returns or return information. In a 
January 2017 ABC/Washington Post poll, three-quarters of 
Americans say that President Trump should release his tax 
returns--including nearly 50 percent of his own supporters. It 
is our sincerest hope that President Trump will release his tax 
returns to the American public as virtually all presidents have 
done since Richard Nixon.

                                   Richard E. Neal,
                                           Ranking Member.
                                   Bill Pascrell, Jr.

                                  [all]