American Oversight today sued the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department for failing to release records that could reveal whether President Donald Trump or senior members of his administration have interfered in the audit of Trump’s taxes.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Trump received a $72.9 million tax refund in 2010, and the IRS audit of that refund has been the subject of a long-running battle between Trump and the agency. If the IRS auditors ultimately disallow the refund, the Times reported, Trump could owe more than $100 million.
In May, American Oversight submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the IRS seeking records of communications about the audit — including between senior IRS officials and the White House or Treasury Department, or between career IRS auditors and political appointees — as well as other related correspondence.
American Oversight did not ask for copies of Trump’s tax returns themselves — those records are generally exempt from release under FOIA — and we explicitly excluded them from our request. But, saying the records could contain “tax returns or return information,” the IRS rejected the request, despite its legal obligation to redact such information and provide the rest.
Separately, American Oversight submitted additional FOIA requests to the Treasury Department seeking records of senior department officials’ communications with the offices of the president, vice president, or the IRS concerning the audit, as well as communications containing key terms related to the audit. A fourth request, submitted to the IRS, seeks ethics and recusal records for senior political appointees, including Commissioner Charles Rettig.
Today’s lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, DC, asks a judge to order the IRS and Treasury Department to comply with the requests and to process and release any responsive records as required by law.
Throughout his time in office, Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is willing to pressure government officials to take actions that would personally benefit him and his allies. From ordering the withholding of military aid to Ukraine, to urging the Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19, to pressing the Justice Department to intervene in the cases of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, there is ample precedent to suggest that Trump would similarly attempt to use his influence to secure a favorable outcome to his tax audit.