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US federal law clearly details that when the chairman of the US House Ways and Means Committee provides a request in writing for any US citizen's tax returns - even a sitting US president - the US Treasury, now headed by Trump appointee Steve Mnuchin, "shall furnish" the documents. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., speaking before Mnuchin's response was delivered, said it may take Neal a couple of days to issue his own response.

In a letter to committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department hasn't decided whether to comply with the demand and said Treasury will consult with the Justice Department and "carefully" review the request further. "Those concerns lack merit".

But in the letter, Mr Neal told IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig: "None of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee's request".

House Democrats are fighting hard to get their hands on President Trump's tax returns, but if they can't do it on their own they might have some help.

Trump broke with 40 years of presidential campaign tradition by declining to release his personal returns before the 2016 election. Dubbed the "blue wall" before they unexpectedly tipped to Trump, they may have supplanted Florida and OH as the nation's premier presidential battlegrounds.

On Monday, lawmakers in NY proposed a bill that would allow the commissioner of the state's Department of Taxation and Finance to turn over state tax returns if requested by certain congressional committees. Neal is relying on a 1920s-era law that says the IRS "shall furnish" any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees.

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Trump has repeatedly claimed to be unable to release his tax returns because he is under audit. He said that he was under audit and didn't intend to turn anything over until that process had been completed.

Mnuchin said that Treasury Department lawyers have been working "diligently" to research the issues involved and have been in contact with Justice Department attorneys. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request", Neal said in the letter.

Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump's returns.

"For good reason, it would be a gross abuse of power for the majority to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents".

Neal said in his letter that the request is needed to further "legislative proposals and oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President".

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