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Neal Floor Statement on H.R. 9640, Presidential Tax Filing and Audit Transparency Act of 2022

(As prepared for delivery)

M. Speaker, we are here today to affirm that in America, we are a nation of equal citizens, and no person is above the law, not even a president. 

Congress has a responsibility to serve as a check on the Executive Branch, and the Ways and Means Committee is entrusted with oversight of our revenue system.

At the root of it all, our federal tax system funds the democracy that we all love and cherish. We rely on voluntary tax compliance from all Americans, and perhaps especially, the president, who always should model the highest order of good citizenship.

Forty-nine years ago, President Nixon asked Ways & Means Chairman Wilbur Mills to have the Joint Committee on Taxation review his tax returns. This examination established the precedent for Congress’s oversight of Presidential tax compliance. 

Four years ago, our Committee began reviewing the mandatory audit of Presidential tax returns to see how the IRS was handling the stress of a president with complex finances.

The Committee expected to find that the mandatory examinations were conducted promptly, and that more staff had been dedicated to the program to meet the more rigorous demands. 

Instead, after years of stonewalling and litigation ending at the Supreme Court, the Committee found that, for all practical purposes, the mandatory audit program was dormant. It wasn’t just functioning poorly—it was not functioning at all.

In fact, the IRS did not even start its mandatory audits until receiving the letter I sent requesting the President’s tax returns. 

The IRS has failed to administer its own mandatory audit program policies, so the best available recourse is for Congress to fill this void with legislation that eliminates the IRS’s discretion in the matter. That’s what we are doing today.

This legislation would require the IRS to publish the President’s tax returns, audit them in a timely manner, and keep the American public updated on the results. Because the president is no ordinary taxpayer.

No other American holds the power, or influence, as the leader of the Executive Branch.

We arrived at today’s legislation through a deliberate and cautious process. These improved guardrails will provide Americans the assurance they deserve that our tax code applies evenly and fairly to all of us, no matter how powerful.

The Ways and Means oversight staff pursued the facts about the mandatory examination procedure with professionalism and diligence. I emphasize that there were no leaks by the Committee leading up to the decision to release our report on the mandatory examination process. 

This bill, combined with the investments in the IRS we made as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, will preserve the integrity of the Presidency and our tax system and ensure that no one in this country is above the law.          

Today’s legislation is not about any one president. It is not about being punitive or malicious. The bill we consider today is about the integrity of the presidency and the integrity of the tax system. 

M. Speaker, finally, I ask unanimous consent to include in the Record a technical explanation of the bill prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. I urge my colleagues to pass this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


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