IRS, Treasury sidestep answer on call for Trump tax returns

Facing a Wednesday deadline to turn over six years of personal and business tax returns of President Donald Trump, the head of both the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department told Congress on Tuesday that no decision had yet been made on how the tax agency and the Trump Administration would handle the request from Democrats on a U.S. House committee.

"We did receive the letter, we're looking into it, and we expect to respond," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig at a hearing of a House spending panel, just a day before a deadline set by the House Ways and Means Committee to produce the documents.

"So, I'll ask you, how will you respond," asked Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL).

"We're working on it," Rettig replied, as he left open the possibility that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - technically Rettig's boss - would be the one to make the decision on the request for the President's tax returns.

Earlier in the day at another hearing, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had been pressed on the exact same subject - who should make the call on the release of the President's tax returns.

"I have not spoken to the White House Chief of Staff or the President about this decision," Mnuchin told lawmakers, shedding little light on the ultimate decision.

While Mnuchin made clear that he was the supervisory boss of the IRS Commissioner, the Treasury Secretary would not say how the tax return request would be handled.

In both hearings, GOP lawmakers again made clear their displeasure with the request from Democrats.

"We have a chairman and potentially a party that is attempting to weaponize the IRS for political gain," said Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA).

Under federal law, three Congressional committees are authorized to ask the IRS for specific tax returns of any individual - what's known as Section 6103(f), which specifically says the Secretary of Treasury "shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request."

"It is our intent to follow the law, and that is in the process of being reviewed," Mnuchin said.

But with the President making it clear he would not turn over his tax returns, it wasn't clear that Mnuchin would be handing over those documents.