On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an application from former President Donald Trump for a stay of a lower court’s ruling earlier this fall regarding the release of his tax records to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Trump had sought to block the ruling, issued in October, that ordered the Treasury Department to hand over his tax records to the committee. The Court’s action this week means that the Treasury Department will likely transfer six years’ worth of Trump’s taxes to the committee within the coming days.
“The application for stay of the mandate presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the brief, unsigned order from the Court said. The order did not mention which, if any, of the nine justices dissented with the action.
Trump responded to the news by lashing out at the Court.
“Why would anybody be surprised that the Supreme Court has ruled against me, they always do!” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social website, adding that the order was “unprecedented” and that the Court “has lost its honor, prestige, and standing” over its decision.
Notably, Trump appointed three of the six conservative justices to the Court as president — meaning that the Court’s refusal to entertain his request was likely a response to outlandish arguments crafted by his lawyers rather than a political stand against him, as the Court has skewed hard to the right in recent years.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, lauded the order, and announced that the committee’s members could “now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years.”
“We knew the strength of our case, we stayed the course, followed the advice of counsel, and finally, our case has been affirmed by the highest court in the land,” Neal said in a statement, adding that the decision by the Supreme Court “rises above politics.”
Due to the numerous legal challenges Trump has made over the years, the committee will have little time to examine the documents — come January, the House will switch from Democratic control to Republican rule, and GOP lawmakers will likely dismantle the committee’s work on Trump’s taxes. The short time frame means that Democrats will have to rush if they want to propose any changes to federal law regarding how presidential taxes are audited, the stated reason why the committee sought the records in the first place.
Trump’s tax records have been a point of contention for years; he promised to make them public as a candidate for office in 2016 but has still yet to do so.
Neal has not indicated whether he will make the tax records public, but an aide to the committee told The New York Times that a decision would be made on the matter once they examined the documents.
Trump is the first presidential candidate in over 40 years who didn’t release his tax returns during his presidential campaign. Trump had claimed that because his taxes were under audit, he was forbidden from doing so — an excuse that it was later revealed Trump and his campaign completely made up.
Trump said that he would make his tax returns public after the audit was completed but never did so. After becoming president, he claimed he wouldn’t release them because it was no longer an issue that mattered to most Americans. But polling during the 2020 presidential election demonstrated that nearly two-thirds of all voters said Trump should publicly release his tax returns.
The issue will likely be revisited in the 2024 presidential election cycle, especially if Trump, who announced a third run for the White House earlier this month, receives the official nomination from the Republican Party or decides to run as a third party candidate.