Congressman Jason Smith
Abuse of Authority
Millions of Americans shared their personal information with the government this month, as they filed their taxes with the IRS. By law, this sensitive information is confidential to protect taxpayers from bad actors who could use this personal information to their advantage. It’s a crime to disclose someone’s private tax information without their consent, yet that’s what the new Democrat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to do with their relentless pursuit for President Trump’s tax returns.
The Ways and Means Committee, the oldest standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, holds a lot of power. Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution mandates any revenue-raising bill must originate in the House, and the Ways and Means Committee is the only committee authorized to raise revenues. It’s why I fought to land a spot on the committee, to give Missouri a vote when anyone in Washington tries to raise our taxes. Better yet, Missouri had a seat at the table when it came time to cut taxes for working families, farmers, and small businesses. The Ways and Means Committee also has oversight authority of the IRS to protect taxpayers from government overreach, ensure the IRS is doing its job correctly, and hold the IRS accountable to the American people.
For the first time in history, the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is using the oversight power of the IRS to target the President of the United States and his tax returns. The Chairman has ordered the IRS to turn over six years of President Trump’s tax returns, allegedly so he can review how the IRS enforces tax laws against a president. Clearly he is going after President Trump for political purposes, as he didn’t request President Obama’s tax returns or individual returns from President Bush, President Clinton, or any other president.
Since 2015, President Trump has filed roughly 400 pages of personal financial disclosures, and every year his tax returns receive a mandatory audit by the IRS. President Trump hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing, and the Chairman of the committee has no reason to believe the IRS isn’t doing its job, but his party wants its hands on the President’s returns to use in the 2020 election. It’s an unprecedented fishing expedition in search of a crime, and not a proper function of the Ways and Means Committee.
The last time someone weaponized the IRS for political gain, someone should have gone to prison. During the Obama Administration, Lois Lerner made headlines for abusing her authority in the IRS to target conservative groups. Americans everywhere were rightfully alarmed – here was a government official violating American citizens’ privacy and turning the tax-collection agency into her personal political vendetta group.
We should be equally alarmed with Members of Congress today who are more concerned with serving themselves than the American people. Every minute the Ways and Means Committee focuses on partisan vendettas is a moment wasted for American families. Instead of working to enhance the Child Tax Credit, locking in lower taxes for small business owners, or ending unfair tax loopholes, taxpayer-funded representatives are using their official government posts to benefit their political party, trampling taxpayer rights and setting dangerous precedents along the way.
As the media and prominent Democrats were fanning the Mueller-probe hysteria, they constantly told the American people the president is not above the law. They’re right – President Trump deserves equal protection under the law to not have his personal tax returns targeted for political gain. All Americans should have that protection. And that’s why it’s dangerous that Congressional Democrats are trying to remove President Trump from office, by any Ways or Means necessary.