Kelly defends U.S. taxpayers’ right to privacy during hearing on Presidential and Vice-Presidential tax returns

Feb 7, 2019

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing regarding legislative proposals and tax law relating to the tax returns of the President and Vice-President of the United States. 

Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ranking Member of the subcommittee, expressed concern about the potential use of Section 6103, a power held by the chair of the full committee, to release President Trump’s tax returns. Kelly argued this action would set a precedent that this provision of tax law could be used as a weapon against any U.S. citizen both during the hearing and in a letter to Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). The letter was co-authored by the Ranking Member of the full committee, Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX).

Whether you are the President of the United States or a steel worker from western Pennsylvania, you must be assured that politicians cannot use your tax returns against you for partisan political purposes, said Kelly. Tax returns contain a significant amount of personal information that is not suitable for publication, and tax law requires that tax return information be kept confidential. “As Members of Congress, our role is oversight, not overreach. All U.S. citizens have a right to privacy and freedom from political targeting by government employees and elected officials.”  

In 1978, Congress established a process for Presidential candidates and other high-ranking government officials to report their personal financial information and potential conflicts of interest through the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Government Ethics. 

I would support a sincere effort in evaluating areas for increased transparency in a presidential candidate’s personal financial disclosure. However, legislating is the proper way to achieve that goal. Using the tax code for such a purpose would be a violation of the public trust and a lazy way to avoid the hard work of lawmaking.