The Tax Code Should Not be Used Like a Political Weapon

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Among the many accusations against former President Richard Nixon, one of the most flagrant concerns was whether the White House used the IRS as a tool to destroy political enemies.  That tactic, which has been universally condemned by all parties and political spectrums, is finding itself in the headlines again.  This time there is concern that Democrat members of Congress are going to try to politicize tax returns in order to harm one of their political opponents, President Trump.

The House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing yesterday on “Legislative Proposals and Tax Law Related to Presidential and Vice-Presidential Tax Returns.”

Speaking to Neil Cavuto on FOX News’ “Coast to Coast,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, called on House Democrats to protect taxpayers’ privacy instead of endeavoring down a partisan path.

“This isn’t about whether or not the President should voluntarily release his tax returns,” the Texas Republican said, “this is about an abuse of power by Congress.”

House Democrats have proposed using Section 6103 of the United States Tax Code to obtain the tax returns of the President. Rep. Brady said using Section 6103 to go after the President’s tax returns would “twist the law and weaponize the tax code for purely partisan reasons.” The Committee’s Republican leader stressed using this law for political reasons “sets a very dangerous precedent.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, said during the hearing that “Congress enacted taxpayer protections embedded in Section 6103 of the tax code to ensure every American’s privacy and to prevent the abuse of taxpayer information.”

Americans should be able to trust that the federal government or some unelected bureaucrat in Washington is not going to publicly release their tax returns without their consent,” Rep. Kelly added.

Solutions exist to increase transparency when it comes to the financial information of those seeking office in 1600 Pennsylvania, Rep. Brady said, citing the already required Presidential Candidate Financial Disclosure form.

Publicly available to taxpayers and lawmakers, Rep. Brady said Congress can work together to learn more about candidates using the already-extensive financial disclosure form without having to put workers’ and families’ private tax returns at risk to political phishing by whatever party is in power.

“We can, by law, say to any President or candidate ‘look, we want to know more about this.’ That is the way to do it, the right way,” Rep. Brady said,“not by weaponizing the tax code.”

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