Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Rep. John Lewis Questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at Hearing on President’s Budget

March 14, 2019
Press Release

Today, the House Ways & Means Committee asked Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to report to the committee in a hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal.  Rep. Lewis’s first questions were related to Section 6013 of the tax code, which governs taxpayer confidentiality.  The IRS uses this section of the code as a guide to determine whether to disclose taxpayer information to state, local, or federal authorities, including the House Ways & Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.  Requests to review a taxpayer’s return by state and local authorities are not uncommon, as the line of questioning reveals.

Also, Rep. Lewis’s questioning alludes to the request made by the full committee during the most recent government shutdown for the IRS Commissioner to come to a bi-partisan closed door briefing to describe the impact of the shutdown on the functioning of the IRS, taxpayer services, and employees.  Though the IRS Commissioner had said he would come, he later cancelled his attendance indicating that the Treasury Secretary did not want him to participate.  In light of this background, Rep. Lewis pursued the following line of questioning during today’s hearing:

 

REP. LEWIS:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for being here.

Mr. Secretary, there were 11 billion disclosures of tax records last year under Section 6103 of the tax code. Mr. Secretary, did you personally sign the forms to release any of these 11 billion tax records?

 

SEC. MNUCHIN:

I'm sorry, I don't understand the question, Mr. Lewis.  Could you just repeat it?

 

REP. LEWIS:

Well, I'll do my very best to make it plain and simple.  There were 11 billion disclosures of tax records last year under Section 6103 of the tax code.  Did you personally sign the forms to release any of these 11 billion tax records?

 

SEC. MNUCHIN:

I don't believe I did, but I could check with my team.  I'm not aware of that, Mr. Lewis.

 

REP. LEWIS:

You don't have any idea who approved it?

 

SEC. MNUCHIN:

I've been advised that that's not something I would normally sign.  It would be something the IRS Commissioner would sign off on.

 

REP. LEWIS:

Is there a representative of the IRS Commissioner present today?

                                                                       

SEC. MNUCHIN:

No, he's not, but I'd be more than happy to follow up with you and your office and get back to you on the specific facts on that.

 

REP. LEWIS:

Let me just ask you, Mr. Secretary:  Didn't you prohibit the IRS Director from meeting with us?

 

SEC. MNUCHIN:

I believe we made available the IRS' team of experts that are available, and I believe at the appropriate time the IRS Commissioner will come and testify, as I am doing.

 

REP. LEWIS:

When is the time right?  When will the time be right, Mr. Secretary?

 

SEC. MNUCHIN:

I'd be more than happy to follow up with the Chairman and schedule it at a mutually available time.

 

REP. LEWIS:

Thank you.  Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to submit a statement from veterans groups against this budget.

 

CHAIRMAN NEAL:

Without objection.

 

REP. LEWIS:

Thank you.  I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

 

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilb6ugske1g

 

                                                                                       ####